Lee-Anne Pace carded a three-under-par 69 in the weather-affected opening round of the SuperSport Ladies Challenge.
Pace made an eagle, four birdies and three bogeys on the Gary Player Country Club layout at Sun City on day one of the Sunshine Ladies Tour’s season-opening event.
With the bad weather causing a lengthy delay in the middle of the round, the five-time Investec South African Women’s Open champion found her score holding up for a one-stroke lead. There were three players within a single stroke of her, two of whom had six and more holes to play.
“The rust is still coming off, but I hit the ball nicely,” said Pace. “I got it up and down when I needed to, and things felt solid around the greens. So, all in all, I’m pleased with this start.”
If those were the things that went well for Pace, it was putting which was perhaps a little rustier than the rest of her game.
“The greens were a little slow, which is understandable given all the rain they’ve had, and I three-putted for a couple of my bogeys,” she said. “And on my last hole, the 9th, I nearly hit a member of my family on my way to making bogey there.”
Her eagle came on the tournament 18th – better known to South African golf fans as the iconic island hole played as the 9th in many other tournaments – and it came after birdies on 12 and 15. She dropped her first shot on the 16th, but a birdie on the 3rd ahead of the rain break took her to four under.
“It was tough for everyone having such a long break because you don’t know whether you should hang around or go to your hotel room,” she said. “I felt for the girls who had to hang around for four hours before teeing off.”
Back on the course, Pace picked up a fourth birdie on the 5th, but then there were dropped shots on the 7th and the 9th as she closed out the round.
England’s Lily May Humphreys also made an eagle on the 18th, her closing hole, on her way to a two-under-par 70. She offset three bogeys with a trio of birdies as she finished her play for the day one behind Pace.
Clara Young overturned a bogey start on the 10th with three birdies in a row, and cancelled a dropped shot on the 7th with a birdie on 18. The Scottish golfer had also reached two under with a par on the 10th when play was called off for the day.
Also in the clubhouse was Elena Moosmann of Switzerland with a one-under 71, while Genevieve Ling from Malaysia and South Africa’s Monique Smit had completed their rounds at level-par 72.
Amateurs Nicole Strydom and Cara Ford posted respective rounds of 77 and 83, while GolfRSA National Squad member Kesha Louw led the amateur challenge on two under through nine holes when play was halted at 7:05pm.
The first round will resume on Thursday at 8am.