Lee-Anne Pace retained her overnight lead to win the S4C Wales Ladies Championship of Europe by three shots at Conwy Golf Club.
The 29-year-old from Mossel Bay in South Africa had been two strokes clear at the start of the day, but a double bogey at the opening hole meant that she had to fight for the title.
She held off Christel Boeljon of the Netherlands and a late challenge by England’s Melissa Reid for a comfortable victory in the end, but Boeljon closed the deficit to one stroke after the first hole.
Both players birdied the second and the 10th, but Pace regained her two stroke advantage with a birdie on the par-five 14th.
Reid birdied six of seven holes from the ninth to join Boeljon on three-under, but Pace stormed three ahead with a decisive birdie on the par-four 16th hole.
Pace tapped in for par on 18 to card a two-under 70 and earn her second Ladies European Tour title, having won the Deutsche Bank Ladies Swiss Open in June.
“It’s my second win and the feeling doesn’t go away. I’m very, very happy,” said Pace, who pockets £45,000 and moves into second place on the Ladies European Tour’s Henderson Money List. She said that she would spend the earnings on a house in Mossel Bay.
“It was a shaky first hole. I let two shots slip there but I had them in the bank. I came back with a birdie on the next hole so it settled my nerves a little bit. Then on the back nine Mel started making birdies and made four birdies in a row. It was quite hard to keep my mind off that but luckily I made a birdie on 16 which kind of sealed the deal.”
The spectators turned out in numbers on a calm and sunny day at Conwy, but Pace coped well in the testing conditions earlier in the week because she plays at the typically windy Mossel Bay golf course in South Africa, which is also the home club of this year’s Open champion Louis Oosthuizen and Bertus Smit, the 2009 Ryder Cup Wales Senior Open champion at Royal Porthcawl. She said: “I guess we just like the wind. It blows on my golf course every single day.”
She said that like the Ricoh Women’s British Open champion, Yani Tseng, she liked to sing on the golf course. “I always sing, because we have so much time out there on our hands. I get a song in my head in the morning and then just keep singing it,” she said. She declined to name her usual tune, but added: “It’s just preventing any thoughts.”
She was working with a new caddie for the week, Craig Barber Ball, who was on the bag when Joanne Mills won at Machynys Peninsula in 2007. “Craig helped tremendously, thinking about different shots. I started thinking about shaping the shots and using the wind, riding the wind, what it was going to do when it turned over, so it helped me think differently. We worked well together,” she said.
For Boeljon, who shared second with Reid on three-under, it was a day of mixed emotions. She said: “I hit 16 greens and hit every green apart from the last two so it was just my putting that wasn’t going all that well. When you get so close to a victory, it’s a shame but it’s good to be back and I think my game is solid enough to have another few good weeks.”
With her tie for second place, Reid moved to the top of the Henderson Money List and she said: “I hit it a bit better than I thought I was going to and had a couple of bogeys really, quite early on, which was a bit disappointing. I had a good fight back and made six birdies in seven holes.”
Anne-Lise Caudal from France finished fourth on four under par, with the 2009 champion Karen Stupples of England a stroke further back in fifth.
The best round of the day was a 64 and came from German rookie Caroline Masson, who finished in sixth place.
A final round of 70 for Becky Brewerton of the home nation gave her a share of seventh alongside the halfway leader, Sweden’s Carin Koch.
Brewerton said: “My putting let me down a bit today. I didn’t make as many as I wanted during the week but overall it was pretty steady and another nearly week.”