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29th February 2016 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Pace profits with top 20 in Thailand

Ladies Tour Dimension Data Challenge: Day 3While American Lexi Thompson picked up her seventh career LPGA Tour win in the Honda LPGA Thailand, South Africa’s number one Lee-Anne Pace also enjoyed a profitable pay-day at Siam Country Club on Sunday.

Pace started the event straight on the back of her ninth successive Sunshine Ladies Tour victory in the Dimension Data Ladies Challenge and battled jet-lag in the opening round.

“I didn’t play well in the first round, but I managed to get around without too much damage and signed for a 74,” said Pace.

“It was more damage control than attacking golf, because my rhythm was still off, probably from all the golf and travelling to three continents in four weeks.

“I felt much better in the second round and I struck the ball beautifully. I made a few putts to shoot a 68 and rocketed into the top 20. I felt really good about my game and it was great to have my coach, James Petts, with me here in Thailand.

“I shot 71 in the third round to stay in touch and carded 72 in the final round to tie for 18th. I played really steady, but the course was very tough and I got penalised for a couple of loose shots.”

Pace started with an eagle at the par-five opening hole, but bogeyed the third and dropped two shots at the fifth. Birdies at seven and nine took her to the turn in one under and she holed a birdie putt at 15 to dip two under par, but she lost the advantage with a double bogey at 18.

She finished alongside South Korean pair Na Yeon Choi and IK Kim, American Kris Tamulis, Anna Nordqvist from Sweden and Candie Kung from Chinese Taipei on three under 285.

Thompson fired rounds of 64, 72, 64 and 68 at the Pattaya Old Course to claim a six stroke victory on 20-under-par 268 from Korea’s In Gee Chun.

Her third cheque in three starts this season lifted Pace to 55 in the Official Rolex World Rankings and she rose from 47th to 41st in the LPGA Tour Official Money List.

The reigning Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies leader has set herself a goal of breaking into the top 50 in the world rankings and she believes a solid performance in her second appearance in the $1.5-million HSBC Women’s Champions at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore could bring her closer to the top 50 target.

“I played this event for the first time last year and I tied for 54th, but I believe I can do much better this year,” said the 35-year-old Paarl golfer.

“I really like the layout of the Serapong Course and I feel good about my game. It’s just a case of limiting the mistakes this week and taking advantage where possible to score birdies.

“Back home Monique (Smit) and Ashleigh (Simon) will go all out to close the gap on me in the point standings in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge this week, so I am looking for a solid performance in Singapore to keep my game at its top level.

“I will head back to South Africa straight after the HSBC Women’s Champions and I need to be in top form to challenge for a hat-trick in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies final next week.”

PHOTO – Lee-Anne Pace; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.