Pace retakes money-list lead with Sanya victory

photo

Lee-Anne Pace's victory at the 2010 Sanya Ladies Open was her fourth of the year on the Ladies European Tour.

SANYA, China – Lee-Anne Pace of South Africa returned to the summit of European women’s golf on Sunday after shooting a 6-under 66 to win the Sanya Ladies Open.

With her fourth victory of the season, she moved to first place on the Ladies European Tour’s Henderson Money List, ahead of England’s Laura Davies, who played instead in the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia.

Pace began the final round four shots behind Stefanie Michl of Austria but by the ninth hole was tied for the lead after her fourth birdie of the day at the Yalong Bay Golf Club.

But Michl moved ahead again after three straight birdies from No. 12, but she dropped a shot at No. 15 and Pace then birdied the next hole to even the match.

Michl missed the 18th green with her approach shot and was unable to get up and down, leaving Pace two putts to ensure victory.

“I can’t believe it,’’ said Pace, who finished at 11-under 205. “I’m a little bit overwhelmed. I didn’t quite expect to win today but I wanted to get a little bit of a chase, which I did, so I’m just over the moon.”

“It was a tight finish. I was still a couple of shots behind and she had three birdies in a row and then I missed my birdie putt, so she was two ahead, and then fortunately I made a bunker save on 15.”

With winnings of €30,000, Pace moved €25,962 ahead of Davies on the money list. With Davies skipping next week’s Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open in Suzhou, China, Pace can climb further ahead.

“Next week, I’m still going to go for the win.” Pace said. “I’ve played there before. I really enjoy the course. I like the place and feel very comfortable there, so I think it’s going to be good. I’m hitting the ball really well.”

Michl’s second-place showing was her best finish in four seasons on the Ladies European Tour.

“There were a lot of good things,” Michl said. “I had a good match out there with Lee-Anne. . . . In the end, I just didn’t pull off the shots I needed to. On 10 and 11, I didn’t sink putts that were really short, and I should have made birdies there. The holes coming in, when I felt the pressure a little bit, just my approaches weren’t as good as hers.

“Of course, if you’re that close, you want to pull it off and win it. You know, it’s a good result, and I’m happy with the way it is.”

Pornanong Phatlum (67) of Thailand was third at 8 under, and Australian Nikki Garrett (69) was a shot back in fourth.

Florentyna Parker of England shot a final-round 73 and slipped back into a tie for fifth place with Vikki Laing (67) of Scotland, Jeehae Lee (67) of South Korea and Russamee Gulyanamitta (68) of Thailand.

Chinese teen sensation Lin Xi Yu was within striking distance but fell apart on the back nine to sign off with a 2-under 70 (211 total) and share ninth with the Christel Boeljon of the Netherlands and Lin Tzu Chi of Taiwan.

“This is my biggest and toughest experience, and I’m glad that I did not panic and played to my strength and not go overboard,” said the 14-year-old amateur, adding that she now beams with confidence ahead of the Asian Games in Guangzhao next month.

Belen Mozo of Spain recorded the first hole-in-one of her short professional career, using a 6-irons at the third hole, and finished at 1 under for a share of 16th place.

Ladies European Tour contributed to this report.

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