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27th January 2017 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Pace closes in on history at SA Women’s Open

Lee-Anne Pace is closing in on a historic three-peat in the SA Women’s Open after she left the field behind in Friday’s second round at San Lameer Country Club.

The Paarl golfer carded a two-under-par 70 in windy conditions to move to eight under, five shots clear of Stacy Bregman and she leads England’s Kiran Matharu by six strokes.

With the win, she will take her Sunshine Ladies Tour tally to 10, collect the lion share of the R250 000 purse sponsored by the Ray Nkonyeni Municipality and gain valuable points in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies.

But Pace’s deep desire to make South African golfing history as the first three-time champion of the national championship was evident when she walked off the course wearing an enormous smile.

“You never know what could happen on the final day,” said Pace.

“After struggling in the SA Women’s Masters, I changed putters and got my head into the game. I knew I needed a fast start and I got that done in the first round. Today, I wanted to put some space between myself and the pack before the final round and I’ve done it. Taking a big lead in to the last 18 takes away some of the pressure.”

The three-time Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies champion opened with a blistering 66 and slept on a two shot overnight lead, but the field woke up to a Northerly wind gusting at 35 km per hour.

“Patience was the biggest weapon out there, especially with some really tough pin positions,” said Pace. “I birdied four, but missed the fairway at five and gave the shot back. Then I made back-to-back birdies at eight and nine and had a run of straight pars to finish eight under.”

The lead sends a clear message to her closest pursuers.

Stacy Bregman on three under, England’s Kiran Matharu a further shot back and Ashleigh Buhai on one under will have to dig deep and go low if there is any chance to stop Pace.

“Stacy made a big move with three birdies in a row from eight and Kiran was playing nicely, too, so anything is possible,” Pace said. “I never count my chickens, but I have some breathing room and all I want to do now is to make that record mine. It will be nice if they do take a run at me, because it pushes me and it will be fun for the crowds.”

Meanwhile 15-year-old Woo Ju Son is wowing professionals, amateurs and spectators alike.

The pint-sized Gauteng golfer tied Monique Smit and Francesca Cuturi for seventh on three over after posting rounds of 74 and 73.

In January, the country’s top ranked junior clinched back-to-back victories in windy conditions in Boland and Western Province and Son showed her prowess when she rallied from a bogey at four and double-bogey at five with a pair of birdies around the turn and parred her way home.

“My putter was so cold over the first six holes, but I just stayed patient,” said Son.

“I nearly holed out at the ninth for an ace and almost made eagle at the second but the putt stopped on the edge. I had no idea where I was in the field and it was a shock to see I was top 10. I think it’s going to be great to play with Monique and Francesca in the final round. Every time you play with the pros, you learn and there is always something to take back home.”

Son went straight to the putting green after play, but put the short stick away when challenged to a game of table tennis by Sweden’s Sofia Ljungqvist and Alexandra Lennartsson.

“It’s nice to just switch off and do something else, and anyway, it always fun when you beat the pros,” said a beaming Son she and 13-year-old Caitlyn Macnab beat the six-foot-something Swedish duo.

 PHOTO – SA Women’s Open defending champion Lee-Anne Pace; credit Justin Klusener.

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