|Lee-Anne Pace collects her ball after chipping in on hole 16|
Pace, a two-time Ladies European Tour winner this year in Switzerland and Wales, holed a one metre birdie putt at the 10th which she played as her first hole. She made a long birdie putt at the 13th and setting up her third birdie at the 15th, hitting an eight-iron to tap in distance from 120 metres.
At the par-three 16th, she missed the green left but explained, “I thought, ‘this is a good chip in chance’ and chipped in.”
She cut a three-iron around the trees to 20 feet from 170 metres at the par-five 17th and holed the eagle putt on her way to an outward total of six-under-par 31, coming back in one-over 35.
Pace has twice tied for 16th in Finland and is looking to put some distance between herself and No. 2 Melissa Reid of England in the money title race. She is €13,660 clear of Reid, who is skipping this week.
With season’s earnings of €218,530, she has pocketed almost €100,000 more from 16 LET events played this year than from her last three seasons combined. Her meteoric rise to fame inspired fellow South African Robbertze, who shot a career best round of four-under 67.
The 30-year-old from Johannesburg said: “We had dinner last night and had a good chat about the golf. I think she is in a very positive frame of mind and that’s quite an inspiration.
“I went out a bit more positive than I have been the last few tournaments so it all seemed very well. I think the key today was appreciation. I just appreciated every shot and made sure that I enjoyed every shot instead of thinking ahead.”
She explained how she practised hitting shots in bare feet in the rain on the eve of the tournament to help her balance. “My coach told me to stand and hit golf balls without my shoes on and that seemed to work.”
The 2005 champion Lisa Holm Sorensen and fellow Dane Malene Jorgensen also tied for third on 67 with Swedish amateur Caroline Hedwall.
Scotland’s Vikki Laing, Finland’s Kaisa Ruuttila, England’s Kiran Matharu and Jade Schaeffer from France tied for seventh on three-under-par.
The second round of the 54-hole tournament starts at 8.30am on Saturday, following which there will be a cut to the leading 50 professional players and ties.