Turkish Delight for Lee-Anne Pace

Lee-Anne Pace collected her sixth Ladies European Tour title at the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open, three years after her last victory in 2010, when she won the Order of Merit and five titles around the world.
With a final round one-under-par 72, the 32-year-old South African came from two shots behind the overnight leaders Charley Hull and Carlota Ciganda to win by one at National Golf Club.
Playing in the penultimate group, in fine weather, Pace posted the clubhouse lead at three-under before an agonising wait on the putting green to see if she could be caught by Hull, Ciganda or the two-time defending champion Christel Boeljon.
All three players needed a birdie to force a play-off and Boeljon was eliminated after she found the bunker off the tee and had to lay-up to the fairway.
Hull and Ciganda both had fairly long birdie putts to stay in the tournament but Ciganda’s birdie putt from around 25 feet lipped out, before Hull’s edged past the hole.
“My heart stopped for a while, for a beat, but you know, if it happens, it happens. We may have had to go to a play-off but I was just hitting some putts and trying not to look,” said Pace, adding that patience was the key. “It’s so nice to win again. It’s been a while and to do it again is fantastic.”
Playing on one of the toughest courses on the Ladies European Tour schedule, Pace had a blistering start with birdies on the second and fourth holes and she had established a one stroke lead by the turn.
She used a nine-iron to strike her ball within a metre of the flag on the par-three second before hitting a chip and a putt for birdie on the par-five fourth hole.
She made a fantastic up and down on number six and then another good save after finding the bunker on eight.
On the more difficult back nine, she made a great save on 10, before dropping a shot on 11 after a gust of wind knocked the ball down short of the green and immediately responded with a birdie on 12, followed by a bogey on 14.
“It’s definitely one of the toughest golf courses, also because the greens get quite a lot harder at the end of the week and quicker. It’s a very tight golf course so of course you have to keep the ball in play,” said Pace, who was congratulated by her friend Ciganda, the LET Player of the Year in 2012.
Joint runner-up Ciganda said: “I’ve been playing good but today wasn’t like the days before. I didn’t hit the ball that good and I only hit 12 greens compared to 15 or 16 the other days. It was a bit tough but I tried until the end. I finished with one birdie on the last five holes and until the end I was trying to fight, but only one person can win and Lee-Anne played great so congratulations to her.”
Rookie professional Hull, 17, finished equal second for the third time in as many tournament starts this season.
“I’m pleased but just a bit annoyed. At least I parred the last,” she said. “I didn’t play very good on the first 11 holes. The back nine, I played a lot better. I seem to perform better when I’m under pressure and I have to chase, like the last couple of holes. I just edged my putt on 17 and literally edged the hole on 18 and I thought I had it, but it was a good try. I’ve had three second place finishes in my first three tournaments so I just want to win one now.”
Hull and Ciganda were joined in second by Finland’s Minea Blomqvist, who fired a second successive round of 70 and commented: “I have to be very, very happy. It was a very tough start for me. The front nine was plus one and I didn’t get it going. I was very happy to make five birdies on the back nine. I have had such a difficult time for three years with my game and I actually want to cry right now because I’m so happy.”
The next Ladies European Tour event is the Deloitte Ladies Open in Holland, on May 24-26, where Ciganda will be defending, Hull will have another stab at claiming her maiden title and Boeljon will be the leading lady on home soil.


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