Lali Stander –
21 July 2013 – Southern Cape’s Lee-Anne Pace held off a gutsy challenge from Norway’s Mikaela Parmlid at Club de Campo Villa de Madrid to claim the Spanish Open in Madrid on Sunday.
Despite an unexpected double bogey at the penultimate hole, the 2010 Ladies European Tour number one closed with a par a final round 71 and a slender one shot victory on 13-under-par 275.
The hard-earned conquest not only pushed her winning tally to seven, but Pace’s second victory this season dished up another well-deserved reward. The winner’s cheque worth €52,500 helped the Mossel Bay golfer leapfrog Gladys Nocera of France, who recently beat her at the Slovak Open, for the number one spot on the Ladies European Tour’s money list.
Beginning the day with a share of the lead at 12-under-par 136 with Celine Herbin from France, Pace seized immediate control of tournament with an opening birdie at the par-five first and reeled in three birdies on the trot from the fifth to pull well clear of the challengers.
Although Pace bogeyed the par-four ninth, the 32-year-old completed the outward loop in three under 34. Parmlid blasted into contention with an opening birdie, but still trailed four shots at the turn.
The South African dropped another shot at the par-four 12, but remedied the damage when she prevented Parmlid from closing the gap to one shot with tap-in birdie by boxing a 15-footer for birdie at the 15th hole.
The Norwegian fell three behind after a bogey at the 16th and victory was well within Pace’s grasp when disaster struck.
“I had an eight-iron in at the 17th, and I went straight for the pin, which was set to the left, about five meters in,” Pace explained. “It pitched on the green but spun into the bunker. I just needed to splash it out, but as I hit the ball, I knew I was in trouble.
“There was no sand under the ball and it bounced straight over the green. I was absolutely dumbfounded. The bunker felt really soft under my feet, so I never expected that to happen.”
After the resulting double bogey, Pace played textbook golf at the final hole.
“Fairway, green and a 20-footer for birdie that just stopped,” she laughed.
Pace won the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open in May and last month, narrowly lost the Slovak Open to Nocera. Her seventh victory, however, is very special, because it represents the culmination of hard work to get back to the number one spot on the Ladies European Tour.
“It’s really fantastic to hold this trophy and I’m really thrilled with this victory. More so, I’ve made it to the top of the Order of Merit halfway through the season. After my season was derailed by injury late last year, my goal this year was to get back to the number one spot.
“I had to work very hard to get back to this kind of form and to see the effort pay off like this.”
South Africa’s Ashleigh Simon fired a final round 69 to launched to a tie for fifth on seven-under-par 281 alongside Nocera, while Tandi Cuningham slipped to joint 52nd on four over 292 after signing for a disappointing 76.