South Africa’s number one women’s golfer, Lee-Anne Pace, on Tuesday cruised to her third Sunshine Ladies Tour title, and second in succession, when she won the Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club and she will now use this weekend’s Investec Cup for Ladies to fine-tune her game ahead of her return to the United States and the first major of the year.
Pace has played three of the events on the Sunshine Ladies Tour this summer and won all of them, which has seen her motor up the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies standings to third, giving her an excellent chance of defending her title at the limited-field season-finale at Millvale and the Lost City this weekend.
The 34-year-old Pace said on Tuesday at the Investec Cup draw that this weekend’s chase for the R600 000 bonus pool will be the perfect cap for her preparations for the ANA Inspiration, the first women’s major, starting on April 2 at the famous Mission Hills Country Club in California.
“I’ve gained a lot of confidence from these last couple of weeks in South Africa, I’ve been striking the ball really well and I feel a lot more ready for the majors because I’ve been competing. This time last year I hadn’t played nearly as much and especially winning, no other feeling compares to that and hopefully I can carry that into the majors,” Pace told The Citizen on Tuesday.
The world number 31’s willingness to forego competition overseas and play in South Africa shows just what great strides the Sunshine Ladies Tour has taken.
“There’s been a lot more exposure and interest this year and a lot more players competing, including a couple from England. Hopefully they can get the word out and, with such good sponsors on board like Investec, hopefully the tour can get even bigger, maybe have some co-sanctioned events like the men,” Pace said.
Sunshine Tour executive director Selwyn Nathan said the success of the Sunshine Ladies Tour had surpassed expectations.
“The growth of the women’s tour has been unbelievable, even though it is still a work in progress. This tour is going to grow and we have fantastic plans for it. It’s been an absolute success and sponsors, fans and social media interest have all grown.
“And the appreciation from the women golfers has been amazing, there’s not been one tournament where the sponsors have received less than 30 letters of thanks from the players, and that’s from fields of less than 50,” Nathan said.