SA’s Chen holds on at Xiamen Open

Connie ChenSouth Africa’s Connie Chen held on for a share of the lead in Saturday’s second round of the Xiamen Open at the Orient Golf and Country Club in China.

The recent Tenerife Open de Espana champion followed an opening 68 in the inaugural €250,000 with a two-under-par 70 to share pole position with Belgium’s Chloe Leurquin and amateur Ssu-Chia Cheng from Chinese-Taipei.


SA pair in great form in China

Connie ChenAshleigh Simon lags just three off the pace from compatriot Connie Chen, who took a one stroke lead in the first round of the inaugural €250,000 Xiamen Open in China.

Chen, with father Hong on the bag, toured the par-72 championship layout at the Orient Golf and Country Club in 68 strokes to take pole position on four under par.

The recent Tenerife Open de Espana champion reeled in birdies at the fifth, eighth and ninth holes after a bogey start and had three more gains on the back nine to eliminate a bogey at the 15th.


Setting the Pace for Women’s Golf Development

Lee-Anne PaceAfter her recent epic victories at the Cell C SA Women’s Open at the San Lameer Country Club, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Blue Bay LPGA in Hainan, China, South Africa’s top women’s golfer Lee-Anne Pace is back in South Africa and is geared up for the inaugural First-Pace Golf Day for Girls.

The development initiative is scheduled for 11 November 2014 at the Pearl Valley Golf & Country Estate near Franschhoek.

First Car Rental and Lee-Anne Pace, who is now ranked 29th in the world, are collaborating with big names and brands in golf to hold a talent-spotting event for young girls who attend schools near the award-winning course.

The First-Pace Golf Day for Girls was originally set to happen in May this year, but was postponed after the announcement that Pace had qualified for an LPGA Tour event after a ranking reshuffle. Pace thought she would only be gone for a week, but performed well enough to continue playing for six more months.

The aim of the First-Pace Golf Day for Girls is to spot natural talent, combined with the right passion and attitude, at grass roots level. Two girls will be offered a sponsored prize package, valued at approximately R80, 000 each, as well as coaching and mentoring sessions from the best in the golfing industry over a 12 month period to develop their skills.

“It’s fantastic that First Car Rental is supporting women’s golf and taking the initiative to grow and develop the sport through the First-Pace Golf Day for Girls, especially in my home area near Paarl,” said Pace. “This event will help us scout for young talent. We hope to assist two star players develop their skills so that they can compete at a professional level one day.”

Although the event had to be postponed, First Car Rental Executive Head: Strategy, Development & Marketing, Melissa Storey, believes it was for the best.

“Lee-Anne has returned to South Africa with two 2014 international titles to her name. She was a star to begin with, but has proven that with passion and dedication, anything can be achieved. She will be an inspiration to the girls.”

Eleven government and private schools from the surrounding Franschhoek area were identified to participate in the day and 40 girls between the ages of nine and 17 were nominated by their school heads, coaches and teachers to take part in the fun, but testing afternoon.

The tutoring on the day will be conducted by South Africa’s number one ranked golfer, Lee-Anne Pace, and pro golfer and full-time teaching professional at Erinvale Golf Estate, Rae Hast. The pro golfer is also the author of Short & Sharp – Skills to Sharpen your Game and is member of the WPGA board

They will be supported at various stations by Swingfit South Africa coaching director James Wade, Pearl Valley Golf & Country Estate Golf Manager Carl Krog, as well as pro golfer Abrie Swanepoel and golf attendant Bridget Keogh, both from Pearl Valley Golf & Country Estate.

The First-Pace Golf Day for Girls aims to nurture young talent and help develop the proper attitude, character and personality upfront so that they may continue to become the country’s superstars tutored by the best there is.

The fully-sponsored prize package for the two winners includes playing rights and full use of facilities at Pearl Valley Golf & Country Estate; coaching and mentoring by professionals such as SwingFit, in association with Boland Ladies Golf, a set of golf clubs and bag, plus applicable golf clothing and shoes sponsored by Puma and Cobra.

Event details:
Date and time of event: Tuesday, 11 November 2014 from 15h00 – 17h00
Venue:  Pearl Valley Golf & Country Estate, Franschhoek, Western Cape


SLT gains international support

On the baSunshine Ladies Tourck of a very successful 2014 Cell C SA Women's Open and Lee-Anne Pace ending a 26-year title drought for South Africa on the LPGA Tour, the Sunshine Ladies Tour received huge recognition from Sports International Magazine.

Follow the link to below and view 10 pages in the 12th edition dedicated to the stars of South African women's golf and the hard work of the WPGA, Sunshine Ladies Tour staff and sponsors and SA Women's Open promoter, World Sports Promotions.

Pace hopes LPGA win boosts SA women's game

Blue Bay LPGA champion Lee-Anne PaceLee Anne-Pace broke a 26-year LPGA Tour title drought for South Africa when she claimed a three stroke maiden victory in the rain-shortened Blue Bay LPGA in China on Monday.

Pace is only the second South African-born champion in LPGA Tour history after two-time Major winner, Sally Little, who won 15 times between 1976 and 1988.

The Sunshine Ladies Tour number one believes her victory will inspire a new wave champions from South Africa and go a long way in boosting the development of the women’s game at home.


Pace on the brink of LPGA breakthrough

Lee-Anne PaceIt is edge of the seat stuff for local golf fans, who will have an anxious wait to see if South Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace can follow Sally Little into the winner’s circle on the LPGA Tour.

The legendary Major winner won 15 times on the LPGA Tour between 1976 and 1988 and Pace could end a 26-year title drought if she carries a four stroke lead to a podium finish in the Blue Bay LPGA on Monday.

Coming off a sublime victory at the Cell C SA Women’s Open, the Pearl Valley golfer arrived in China on Monday and carried her hot form to a share of the 36-hole lead with American Jessica Korda.

However, torrential rain caused numerous suspensions at the Jian Lake Blue Bay Golf Course, eventually forcing officials to reduce the event to 54 holes.

After a four hour delay to the start of the final round, Pace pulled four strokes clear of US Women’s Open champion Michelle Wie through 13 holes when another storm hit, forcing officials to stop play and declare a Monday finish.


Pace charges to Cell C SA Women’s Open win

2014 Cell C SA Women's Open champion, Lee-Anne PaceSouth Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace hardly had time to celebrate her play-off victory in the Cell C SA Women’s Open before she had to board a flight to China on Monday morning.

However, the Pearl Valley golfer the memory of the winning putt at San Lameer Country Club will keep the South African smiling long into the week at the Blue Bay LPGA this week.

The South African broke the international stranglehold in the national championship and claimed her ninth Ladies European Tour title when she defeated England’s Holly Clyburn at the second hole of a sudden-death play-off on Sunday.


SA Women’s Open confirmed until 2021

Lesley Copeman, Ivan Khodabakhsh & Barbara PestanaThe Ladies European Tour (LET) and Women’s Professional Golf Association of South Africa (WPGA) are delighted to jointly announce their agreement with World Sport Promotions to extend the South African Women’s Open through to 2021.

The success of the tournament over the first three years of the relationship has created a tremendous boost to women’s professional golf in South Africa and all parties are delighted to announce a ground breaking extension, which sets the foundation for continual growth of the game in the region from grass roots development to the professional game.


Whittaker leads by one in South Africa

Leigh WhitakerLeigh Whittaker fired a career-best five-under-par 67 to take a one stroke lead into the final day of the Cell C South African Women’s Open on Saturday. 

On the first full day of clear weather in this 54-hole tournament, the 26-year-old from Baden-Baden in south western Germany took advantage of the favourable afternoon conditions to post a two-round total of four-under-par at San Lameer Country Club. She is one stroke clear of England’s Holly Clyburn and Germany’s Ann-Kathrin Lindner.

Leading a Ladies European Tour event for the first time, Whittaker is now seeking to become the second German winner of the tournament in the last three years following Caroline Masson’s triumph at Selborne Park Golf Club in 2012.

“I was one over through three and I just played one shot at a time and judged the wind and the situation,” said the 115th ranked Whittaker, after recording her first round in the 60s in two years as a professional.

“I’m normally pretty straight, so I hit 17 greens and I was never really far away from the pin so I gave myself chances to make the putts and I had a few long ones and a few short ones too.”

As a member of Golf Club St Leon-Rot, which will host The Solheim Cup in less than a year’s time, Whittaker shares a home course with Lindner, last year’s Sberbank Golf Masters champion. The pair are also staying with the same German host family this week – and they now share a final round tee time: in the last group at 12:05 with the 2013 Deloitte Ladies Open winner Clyburn.

Having played in the morning draw in the first round, the leading trio were all able to rest for a full day when Friday’s play was washed out. “We were really lucky with the draw but that’s golf and you’ve got to take it as it comes and I think I just used it as well to have a good time,” said Whittaker.

England’s Charley Hull was the best of the players on the other side of the draw and she ended the day in a share of fourth position with Fabienne In-Albon of Switzerland, who is also staying with the same host family as Lindner and Whittaker.

Overnight leader Hull would have been tied for the lead but was given a two-stroke penalty that saw her finish the day on two under and with a 74.

On the par-three 16th green, Hull’s putter slipped out of her hand, moving her golf ball. That was already a one-stroke penalty. But Hull played the ball from its new position, and that earned her a two-stroke penalty.

“It’s disappointing, but that’s golf I suppose,” she said. “I’m not too fazed by it because I can’t do too much about. I think I played pretty well out there overall. On the final day I can still make plenty of birdies, so I’ll be fine,” she said, having responded to her penalty with birdies at 17 and 18.

A trio of French players lie in a share of sixth place on one under par: Gwladys Nocera, Valentine Derrey and Sophie Giquel-Bettan.

Lee-Anne Pace is the leading South African four strokes off the lead on level par alongside Sweden’s Julia Davidsson and German Nina Holleder.

“I’m feeling good. I’m hitting the ball fantastically well. I just need to make some birdies now,” said Pace, who is seeking to become the first South African winner of this championship since 2009, when Tandi Cuningham won.

While not entirely satisfied with her round, Pace was pleased to finally get an uninterrupted round under her belt.

“I’m not quite happy with 73. I didn’t hit it as close as I wanted to. I hit some great shots but didn’t get the results. But it was nice to get in a full round today. It helps to get a bit of momentum going.”

Photo - Keigh Whitaker; credit Justin Klusener
Written and released by Bethan Cutler, Ladies European Tour

Pace set for SA Women’s Open finale

Lee-Anne PaceSouth Africa’s top golf export, Lee-Anne Pace, is gung-ho ahead of the final round of the Cell C SA Women’s Open on Sunday.

The former Ladies European Tour number one is the lone South African in the top 10 at San Lameer Country Club, having followed an opening 71 in the rain-hit championship with a 73 in the delayed second round on Saturday to finish at even-par 144.

Pace lags four behind afternoon starter Leigh Whittaker from Germany, who fired a career-best five-under-par 67 to take pole position.


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