An absent Davies gives opening for Pace in China

Lee-Ann Pace of South Africa

Lee-Ann Pace of South Africa

photo

Laura Davies won her fourth victory of the year and 76th of her career at the 2010 Spanish Women's Open.

SANYA, China – With Laura Davies competing at the LPGA event in Malaysia, Lee-Anne Pace can retake the top spot on the 2010 Ladies European Tour Henderson Money List this week at the inaugural Sanya Ladies Open in China.

A top-10 finish – this week or next – will probably do it.

Pace, with three victories this season, is bidding to become the first South African in the LET’s 32-year history to win the money title. The former University of Tulsa collegian is 4,038 euros behind Davies, and first prize this week is worth 30,000 euros. Davies instead is playing on a sponsor’s exemption at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, which also starts Friday.

Pace climbed to the top of the Henderson Money List following her win at the Scottish Open in August but was overtaken by Davies, who claimed her fourth victory of the season at the Spanish Open in September.

The money-list contest is heating up as LET players face a heavy schedule throughout Asia over the next month.

Melissa Reid, No. 3 in earnings, joins Pace this week in Sanya and next week at the Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open in Shanghai. Reid, the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open champion, is 42,214 euros out of the top spot.

England’s Trish Johnson, who has won twice this season, taking her career LET victory tally to 20, also is in the field this week. Johnson is seventh on the Henderson Money List with 137,749 euros and is visiting China for the first time in her 24-year career.

Joining her in Sanya among the top-20 earners are Vikki Laing of Scotland, Florentyna Parker of England, Christel Boeljon of the Netherlands, Ashleigh Simon of South Africa, Becky Brewerton of Wales and Karen Lunn of Australia.

If Pace thinks she has a chance to claim the money title, she plans to play the season-ending Omega Dubai Ladies Masters in lieu of seeking a LPGA card.

“It’s good to have options, but if I have to go to Dubai to win the Order of Merit, then I’ll do that rather than going to the LPGA Q-School Finals. There’s always next year,” said Pace, who last played on the LPGA in 2007.

The 29-year-old from Mossel Bay might already have an advantage over Davies by the Korean Ladies Masters, Nov. 5-7, which is the next time Davies is scheduled to play on the LET.

Ladies European Tour contributed to this report.

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