Lady Golfer meets Lee-Anne Pace

The South African won three times on the LET last year, more than any other player. She explains how she did it and her plans ahead.

It’s an obvious question but what is the knack to winning so regularly?

I’m in contention a lot so that really helps and makes it a bit easier as you go through it quite a few weeks. Once I get into that last day something kicks in and takes over.

The first win was very difficult, I was so nervous, then the nerves are still there but you learn how to handle them and you hit better shots into the greens or off the tee and make some putts.

What shots or moments gave you particular pleasure in the 2013 season?

The putt in China in the play-off was good; it was downhill, down grain and left to right but I holed it to win the tournament.

In Turkey I hit an awesome chip coming down the stretch when I had two metres of green to work with and I was four metres long but I managed to get up and down and won by one. In Spain I hit it well all week so the ball striking was very satisfying.

In Spain you doubled the 17th hole and still won, what tips would you give us to help to regroup?

At that moment I was still one shot ahead and playing better than my opponent in my head. I literally walked off the green and told myself I was going to win it, I was one shot ahead and it was a tough hole and all I had to do was hit the fairway and hit the green. And two putt. And I did all three.

If she made a birdie then good luck to her and we would have a play-off. I kept it simple, I was still in the lead and it wasn’t like I had lost the tournament.

How special was it to win the players’ Player of the Year for a second time? That was an amazing honour, to win an award on merit is great but to win one from your peers is pretty special. I was thinking about it but you can never expect to win it so when I got it I was delighted.

How did you enjoy your first visit to St Andrews for the British Open?

It was incredible, on the Saturday it really blew and even the Sunday it was still blowy but it was still kind of brilliant to face that sort of challenge because it was at the Old Course.

On the Saturday, when they stopped play, I managed two holes and bogeyed them so I think they made the right decision to have 36 holes on Sunday!

My two coaches were there plus a friend so we went out every night for dinner and walked round the town, I would love to go back for a social weekend.

Golf is funny, you might get a lucky bounce or someone might do something special, but I was still in contention a lot. You won five times in 2010 and three times last year, is there any reason behind the blank seasons?

You do think about it but my stats haven’t changed much. Golf is funny, you might get a lucky bounce or someone might do something special, but I was still in contention a lot.

I guess it wasn’t my time then.

What do you make of the Order of Merit, Suzann Pettersen finished with twice as much money despite playing in three events to your 20?
I think it’s a little bit unfair to those who play on the LET all year long to finish in the top five and get in the US Open and then get kicked out by players who are already qualified through playing in America.

I think you should have to play six tournaments to be eligible for the Order of Merit, it takes a little bit of the honour away if you only play in three tournaments.  

Likewise how fair are the world rankings? You were ranked 95 at the start of 2013 and finished just 52nd.

It is improving, ideally we’d see something like the men’s game where there is almost a world tour though I think that is going to take a long time to achieve. Eventually it’s going to get there but probably not in my lifetime! Which is fine, I really enjoy playing in Europe and feel really comfortable there. The world ranking isn’t that important as it doesn’t really get you into too many tournaments whereas, with the men, if you are in the top 50 you can play pretty much anywhere.

How did the LPGA Q School go?

I got a conditional card, I played quite badly on one of the courses but I’ll play in Australia, the Kraft and the US Open and then there’s a reshuffle so hopefully I can improve my standing and keep my card that way.

If I did I would always play in Europe as well as I really enjoy the different golf that you play but the LPGA would be my main tour.

Is there ever talk on Tour about a Rest of the World team to play in non-Solheim years? 

They were talking about something like that, maybe in Australia, but I haven’t heard anything for a while. The Solheim Cup was very exciting, I would have loved to have played in it and I would have qualified twice for it. People often ask me am I excited about the Solheim Cup. It would help give a few benefits for the LPGA but you can’t help where you are born.

How helpful is your psychology degree with your golf?

It hasn’t really helped in any way, I studied more on neurology and a bit on the brain but only a couple of lessons on sports psychology. I think I’m pretty good on the course.

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