South Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace, who won her eighth LET title at the Sanya Ladies Open last week, has been the second most successful player on the Ladies European Tour so far this year, behind Norway’s Suzann Pettersen.
This week, she will be bidding for her ninth title when she tees up at Suzhou Taihu International Golf Club for the €400,000 Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open, which starts on Friday.
Pace won the Sanya Ladies Open and then the Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open the following week during a magical spell in 2010, the year she won five titles on the LET.
“It feels a lot like 2010 where I was in contention quite often,” said Pace, who tied for fifth place last year in Suzhou.
When asked whether she feels able to repeat history by winning both Chinese titles again, she added: “I certainly hope so. I feel a lot more confident because I’ve been playing well this year but I’d really love to do it again. It was a little bit of a goal coming into China these two weeks. We spoke about it, my caddie and I, we said, come on, let’s go and win both. You can never tell what’s going to happen but I’m definitely on form and I think I’ve got a good chance.”
She feels excited to be returning to the Suzhou Taihu International Golf Club in Jiangsu, Suzhou, near Shanghai, which will be her final appearance on the LET this season. “I only have one tournament left unfortunately because I’m going to LPGA Final Stage over India and Dubai so I can’t play those two otherwise it definitely would have been a goal of mine to win five events again,” she said. “But I’m very happy with my season.”
Pace has won three titles on the LET this year, starting with the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open in May and followed by the Open de Espana in Madrid in July.
She has also recorded three further three top ten finishes from 18 tournament appearances, including a second place finish at the Allianz Ladies Slovak Open presented by Respect.
On her return to the winner’s circle this year, after a two year dry spell, Pace explained: “After 2010, I think I started putting a bit more pressure on myself to perform and I think I didn’t win for that reason. Last year when I got injured I was off for three months and I had no idea what to expect. I worked really hard to come back, but I had no idea what to expect so there was no pressure on me. After the first win, it took a lot of that pressure off and I feel a lot more comfortable now where I’m more aggressive. I’m more my old self, like I was in 2010. Maybe the injury was a blessing in disguise, I don’t know, but I feel a lot stronger this year and also I’ve got a great caddie. I’m working with Mark Britton this year and he’s an amazing guy: a really, really good caddie: very solid and the plays we’re making, I’m hardly ever in trouble.”
Last year’s winner, Carlota Ciganda of Spain, has returned to defend her title after her magnificent performance last year, when she finished seven shots ahead of Caroline Masson with rounds of 65, 70 and 64 for a winning total of 17 under par.
Ciganda is also in terrific form having secured her third LET title with a play-off victory at the UniCredit Ladies German Open earlier this year before making her debut in The Solheim Cup as a member of Europe’s first team to secure an away victory in the USA.
The field of 114 competitors includes 55 players from the Ladies European Tour, 22 from the Ladies Asian Golf Tour (LAGT), 35 from the China LPGA/CGA and two invited players. The tournament will be played over three rounds with a cut to the leading 60 professionals and those tied after 36 holes.
Despite being much cooler than last week on tropical Hainan in southern China, weather conditions are set to be pleasant throughout the week, with highs of 21-23C and sunshine forecast for the three tournament days.