• Pace cleans up at Joburg Open

    Pace cleans up at Joburg Open
    JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JANUARY 20: Lee-Anne Pace during day 3 of the 2016 Joburg Ladies Open at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Course on January 20, 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa. EDITOR'S NOTE: For free editorial use. Not available for sale. No commercial usage. (Photo by Carl Fourie/Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images)

    Lee-Anne Pace cruised to a five-shot victory at the Ladies Joburg Open on Wednesday and made it clear that she is still the player to beat in South Africa.

    The Pearl Valley golfer began the final round one shot off the pace, but carded a superb 66 at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington’s West Course to finish the tournament on 12 under par.

    Pace got off to a flyer in the final round, birdieing three of her first four holes as she began her march to a seventh Sunshine Ladies Tour victory. On the back stretch she distinguished herself and birdied the final two holes to win in style.

    ‘I had my coach James Petts on the bag this week and I said to him we better step it up. I hit a great shot into 17 and when I saw the line, I told him I had this. I knew the putt would drop. I felt the pressure at 18, but James cracked a joke that broke the tension,’ she said.

    The 34-year-old successfully defended her title at the SA Women’s Open in November and is now two for two in her most recent starts on home soil. She heads to the United States for a fortnight and will be oozing confidence after her victory in Gauteng.

    ‘I am flying out tonight for two weeks on the LPGA Tour,’ she said. ‘I really set out to win this week, because I knew I would miss the next two tournaments. The depth on the Sunshine Ladies Tour this season is incredible.’

    Bertine Strauss, the 24-year-old who graduated from the University of Texas, put on a good performance, but had to settle for second after giving back three shots over the closing three holes.

    Ashleigh Simon was also thereabouts during the week and finished third on her own, while Stacy Bregman, Monique Smit, and Nobuhle Dlamini shared fourth.

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