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21st March 2015 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Pace tightens screws at Sun City

2015SLT_Lee-AnneLee-Anne Pace stayed on course for a dream title defence in the Investec Cup for Ladies after taking an almost insurmountable lead in the second round on Saturday.

The world number 31 tapped in for birdie at the 18th at the Lost City Golf Course to put the seal on a one-under-par 71 and extended her overnight lead to eight strokes.

The reigning champion set the 36-hole target at five-under-par 139, well clear of second-placed Bonita Bredenhann from Namibia, who matched Pace’s low round of the day to finish three over.

Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies Glendower champion Nicole Garcia signed for a 75 to share third with Southern Cape’s Monique Smit, who returned a 75.

Swaziland’s Nobuhle Dlamini eagled the par-five 18th for a 73 to slip into fifth on seven over.

Pace took her tally of Sunshine Ladies Tour titles this season to three following victories in the Cell C SA Women’s Open, and back-to-back wins in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge and Ladies Tshwane Open ahead of the season-finale.

The tournament favourite put herself in a challenging position with a four under 68 at the Millvale Private Retreat in Friday’s first round and was rearing to get going at Lost City.

After a bogey start, Pace racked up three birdies in a row from the third to erase the damage and notched another birdie at the par-five seventh to reach the turn in seven under.

The birdie run ran dry on the back nine, though, the Pearl Valley golfer dropped successive shots at the 13th and 14th.

“I think I just lost a little focus down the back-nine,” the LPGA winner said. “The back nine is actually tougher than the front loop, but I put myself in trouble on those two holes.

“I hit it in the water at the 13th, but I made a good up-and-down for bogey. At the 14th, I hit it in the fairway bunker and had an impossible lie. All I could do was play out to the fairway.

“I still had a six-iron into the green; I was never going to save par from there.”

Pace parred the next two holes, but dropped another shot at the par-four 17th before finishing with her fifth gain of the day.

“That hole bore the brunt of the wind and was playing really tough,” Pace said. “It was nice to lay up and hit it stiff at the 18th to finish with a birdie, though.”

Superb iron-play has been the strong suit of Pace’s game, but the 33-year-old was thrilled to see the putter heat up, too.

“It’s fantastic to catch some form ahead of our first Major of the season in two weeks, the ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills,” Pace said

“I’m not going to slow down now, though. I was on my way to double figures today, but I let it slip and I really want to try to get to 10 under on Sunday.”

PHOTO – Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies defending champion, Lee-Anne Pace; credit Johan Rynners / Investec