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27th March 2015 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Garcia sets pace in Morocco

TSHWANE LADIES OPEN 2015.Nicole Garcia led the Sunshine Ladies Tour pack in the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco, while Lee-Anne Pace and Paula Reto got off to a slow start in the Kia Classic on the LPGA Tour on Thursday.

Garcia carded an opening 69 in the Ladies European Tour event at Golf de l’Ocean in Agadir to finish just two strokes behind pacesetters Tonje Daffinrud of Norway and Ursula Wikstrom of Finland.

Duffinrud, a LET rookie, and Wikstrom, a 12-year LET veteran, finishes one stroke clear of a 10-strong group that includes the French quintet of Gwladys Nocera, Jade Schaeffer, Anne-Lise Caudal, Celine Herbin and 16-year-old amateur Matthilda Cappeliez.

Garcia dropped three shots on the front nine, but cancelled some of the damage with birdies at the first and eighth holes.

However, the recent Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies winner notched three birdies on the back nine to grab a share of 13th at two under with Charlotte Ellis and Melissa Reid from England, Denmark’s Nanna Koerstz, Linda Henriksson from Finland, French player Sophie Giquel-bettan and Spanish golfer Patricia Sanz Barrio.

Compatriot Stacy Bregman opened with an even-par 71 in the fair conditions on Thursday to join fellow Sunshine Ladies Tour player Bonny Bredenhann from Namibia in a tie for 32nd.

Fellow South Africans Monique Smit and Kim Williams left themselves with some work to do, though, after carding respective rounds of 75 and 76.

Meanwhile Pace and Reto both signed for 71s to share 49th spot with 29 players at the Park Hyatt Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad.

Investec Cup for Ladies champion Pace will be looking to warm up the putter after a steady start.

The Pearl Valley golfer bogeyed the par-four fourth and par-three 14th on either sides of birdies at the fifth, eighth and 13th.

Reto, playing in her second season on the LPGA Tour, was equally solid.

The Strand golfer had a pair of birdies on the front nine and a lone bogey at the par-four 15th.

South Africa’s Ashleigh Simon is well off the pace after opening with a 77, but Pace and Reto lag just six strokes behind first round pacesetter Mirim Lee from Korea.

The 2012 Kia Classic champion fired a flawless seven-under-par 65 for a one stroke lead over 15-time LPGA Tour winner Yani Tseng.

PHOTO – Nicole Garcia; credit Catherine Kotze / SASPA