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11th July 2015 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Pace holds steady at US Open

TSHWANE LADIES OPEN 2015.Two solid rounds at Lancaster Country Club in Pennsylvania sees South Africa’s top export Lee-Anne Pace in a great position going into the weekend at the 70th US Women’s Open Championship.

The 36-year-old Pearl Valley golfer is tied for 32nd on two-over-par 142 and lags seven strokes behind pacesetter Amy Yang.

The Korean golfer carded rounds of 67 and 66 to pull three stroke clear of Shiho Oyama from Japan, who returned rounds of 70 and 66 and American Stacy Lewis, who registered rounds of 69 and 67.

Pace opened with a three over 73 at the par-70 Old Course on Thursday.

“I started on 10 with a bogey, but I remained focused and hit a fantastic approach shot into the next hole and made a birdie to get back on track,” the LPGA Tour winner said.

“I held a great putt for birdie on the par three 12th, as well. I played nice and solid for the rest of my front nine and turned two under.”

Pace dropped a few shots on the back nine to tie for 71, but was happy that her game was coming together nicely.

“It’s always tight in Majors, so a good second round on Friday and I could be right in it,” she said.

The double Investec Cup for Ladies champion mixed four birdies with three bogeys for a 69 on Friday and gained 50 spots at the 36-hole mark.

Pace’s main aim this week is to better a career best tie for 43rd she record at Pinehurst Number Two last year, which will give her current 59th world ranking a significant boost.

“I was very pleased with my round today,” Pace said on Friday.

“I continued to hit the ball really well and I putted great, as well. One of my goals for this round was to give myself more uphill birdie chances.

“The greens are big and undulating, so when you are above the hole, you can’t get as aggressive with the birdie putts.  I achieved my goal and that certainly helped.”

Pace was three over when she reached 15, and mailed her tee shot in the right bunker.

“I couldn’t hit a conventional trap shot because the overhanging branches blocked the shot,” Pace said. “The obvious solution was to lay up and try to up-and-down from 70 to 80 yards, but I gripped down on a six-iron and punched out with a little cut.

“I managed to clear the branches with the low shot and finished just short of the green. I chipped to four feet above the hole and boxed the putt. It turned out to be a significant par-save, because the cut was lying around four over.

“That par at 15 was critical, because I maintained my momentum. I hit a nine-iron from 126 meters to eight feet and knocked in the birdie at 16 to get to two over.”

Buoyed by her performance on Friday, Pace is excited to see what the weekend will bring.

“The crowds have been amazing during the first two rounds, so I can only imagine what it is going to be like on Saturday and Sunday,” Pace said.

“Their support and encouragement is infectious and it really gets you going. I also have some of my good friends here, as well, and to have them out there shouting for me is fantastic.”

South Africa’s Bertine Strauss missed the cut – set at four over 144 – by seven strokes.

The Koster, who made her professional debut in the season’s third Major after winning one of the sectional qualifiers, returned rounds of 74 and 77.

PHOTO – Lee-Anne Pace; credit Catherine Kotze / SASPA