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7th July 2014 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Pace psyched for British Women’s Open

2014ISPSHAO_LeeAnnePaceRnd3SLTSouth Africa’s top export, Lee-Anne Pace, is primed for this week’s Ricoh British Women’s Open Championship after a top 10 finish in the ISPS Handa Ladies European Masters on Sunday.


Pace fired a closing four-under-par 68 to tie for third on 11 under 277 to finish seven shots behind winner, IK Kim from South Korea.


Fellow South African Stacy Bregman tied for sixth at 10 under, while compatriot Connie Chen claimed her third successive top 30 finish with a tie for 27th on one-under-par 287 and rookie Nobuhle Dlamini from Swaziland celebrated her second cut made with a joint 64th finish on seven over 295.


The former Ladies European Tour number one missed a number of European events this season to ply her trade on the LPGA Tour, but thanks to a pay day worth €27,733, she vaulted to ninth in the rankings. Pace is determined to take her recent vein of good form to the season’s third Major, which tees off at Royal Birkdale on Thursday.


“It’s really nice that I am back in the top 10, but my focus this year is on retaining my LPGA Tour card and the Majors, and who knows, this might just be my week,” Pace said.


The reigning Investec Cup for Ladies tied for 21st at Royal Birkdale in 2010, which also marked her highest finish in the championship.


“It rained all the time and I got the bad side of the draw in the first two rounds,” Pace said. “I really liked the course, though, and I just want to get going, especially after my best finish ever in the US Women’s Open and a good week like this.


“I can’t control what the other golfers will do, but my game is in good nick. I am a lot more experienced and confident this year, am I’m looking forward to a much better performance.”


The Pearl Valley golfer attributed her recent performances to the stint in the United States and hooking up with new bagman Dylan Vallequette, as well as some valuable putting advice from fellow South African pro, Nicole Bekker, last week.


“Obviously when you play against some of the best golfers in the world on the LPGA Tour week in and out, it lifts your game and it pushes you to do better,” she said.


“Shortly after I got the USA, my caddie and I split and some friends recommended Dylan, who was just back from a spell in Korea. We hooked up and this was his fourth event on the bag.


“The partnership is working out very well. I learned a lot playing on the LPGA Tour with him on the bag, especially how to take on the greens since he introduced me to AimPoint Putting. He walks the course before each round and checks the pins and we plan my shots accordingly. I used to get too aggressive into the pins and it cost me shots.


“I also made a lot of putts this week thanks to Nicole’s help. She noticed that I was taking away too much with my hands, wasn’t using the big muscles enough and we worked on my action.


“Between the two of them, I end up with more uphill putts and got a lot more balls in the hole this week. Under 30 putts a round, which is a huge improvement. If I can keep doing that and limit my mistakes to nothing worse than a bogey, I have a shot at Royal Birkdale.”


Pace and Ashleigh Simon, who was forced to withdraw with severe back spasms on the weekend, will get their first look at Royal Birkdale in Monday’s practice round.


“It was not the week I was looking for before the Ricoh British Women’s,” the three-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner said. “I didn’t want to take any chances, so I withdrew after 12 holes on Saturday and got treatment. Better safe than sorry.”


Meanwhile Sunshine Ladies Tour regulars, Kim Williams and Nicole Garcia, will be fighting for a spot in the Final Qualifying at Southport & Ainsdale Golf Course on Monday in the hopes of joining Pace, Bregman, Simon, Chen and Dlamini in the African line-up.


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