Lee-Anne Pace clinched a four-way sudden death play-off to win the Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open in China, just a week after she won the Sanya Ladies Open in Hainan.
The 29-year-old South African came from six shots back, firing a final round 68 to force the tie-breaker with Christel Boeljon, Hannah Jun and Julieta Granada.
Mossel Bay’s Pace defeated Boeljon and Jun on the second hole to claim her fifth title in five months on the Ladies European Tour.
The four players all finished tied on five-under-par 211 after three rounds on the Suzhou Taihu International Golf Course in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province.
The Netherlands’ Dewi Claire Schreefel, who held a one stroke lead overnight, carded a 75 and dropped into a share of fifth with Becky Brewerton and Rebecca Coakley, one stroke behind.
Pace had an eagle putt to win outright at the first extra hole: the par-five 18th – but three-putted for a par to tie with Boeljon and Jun.
Boeljon had a birdie chance from three feet on the first play-off hole but the ball slipped agonisingly past to the right. Jun also missed a short birdie putt while Granada was eliminated after scoring a bogey.
But at the next, Pace hit a monster drive splitting the fairway and again hit a brave three-wood shot over two bunkers onto the green. After both of the other players missed their birdie putts, Pace was not going to waste a second opportunity and two-putted for birdie to secure the victory.
“This time I’m a little overwhelmed to be honest,” said Pace, who has now won in Switzerland, Wales, Finland and China – twice.
“I actually feel like I stole it today. After nine holes I looked at the leader board and saw that the leaders were dropping shots. I was level par at that stage and knew that if I could make five or six birdies that I would have a pretty good chance to be up there, so that was the goal, and then I had four holes left and my caddie said, ‘Come on: four in a row and you’re going to be up there and I birdied three out of four, so that proved to be pretty good.”
Pace won €30,000 and extended her lead of the LET’s 2010 Henderson Money List (order of merit). Earlier in the week, she had embraced Chinese culture by eating a local delicacy, known as ‘hairy crab’ and according to the Chinese media there is a well known saying in China: “The first one to eat crab is the bravest.” Pace admitted, “Fortune definitely favoured me. The last shot I hit wasn’t a great shot but luckily it carried onto the green and gave me two putts.”
She said that experience of winning helped. “I think it was important to get my first win, to push that through, because last year I was close to winning a few times. After that winning became a lot easier because I’ve done it before and I know what it feels like and I handle the nerves a lot better. At the same time my swing is at the point where I can shape the ball and I’m making a lot more birdies than last year. Of course if you’re making a lot of birdies and not making many mistakes, you’re always going to be up there.”
Now brimming with confidence she hopes to make it a hat-trick of titles in Asia when she heads to next week’s Korean Ladies Masters, taking place from November 5-7 at Haevichi Hotel and Resort on Jeju Island.
“I’m going to try and do the same thing: fairways, greens and see what it brings,” she said. She will be joined in the field by the No.2 ranked LET player, Laura Davies of England.