South African Lee-Anne Pace

(MADRID – Thursday 1st October 2009) – South Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace and Spain’s Marta Prieto share the first round lead at the Madrid Ladies Masters.

They both shot six-under-par 67 on a sunny day at Club de Golf Retamares and lead by one over six other players.

Christel Boeljon from the Netherlands, Italian Veronica Zorzi, Frenchwoman Jade Schaeffer and Emma Cabrera-Bello from Spain share third place with Rebecca Hudson and Trish Johnson from England on five under par.

With the limited field event featuring 40 of the Ladies European Tour’s top performers, plus two amateurs, 31 players, comprising three quarters of the field, finished the day under par.

Pace, 28, from Mossel Bay, attributed her low round to superb putting. She had only 24 putts, leading to a round with eight birdies.

“It was funny because I looked at it afterwards and I had hit 12 greens and birdied eight out of 12 holes,” she said.

This is the penultimate event in Europe before the tour heads to Asia and the Middle East for the end of season swing in China, South Korea and Dubai.

Pace will head home to South Africa on Monday and hopes to secure her first Ladies European Tour victory on Saturday, having finished in equal fifth a fortnight ago in France.

“It’s the last week. I’ve been playing well the whole year but the putts have been falling lately. You go through stages and I’m just starting to see the ball going in,” she added.

Marta Prieto from Spain

Prieto was delighted to have hit 17 greens on her way to seven birdies.

She hoped to end weeks of struggling on tour after diagnosing a fault on Wednesday evening at the range with Spanish golf coach Marta Figueras Dotti, who also coaches Tania Elosegui.

“I’ve been hitting the ball really bad for the last few months and I’ve been struggling to play with what I had, but it wasn’t really enjoyable,” she said.

“Yesterday we realised that I wasn’t shifting my weight at all and it was always on my left, on my backswing and everything so I didn’t have any room.

“I was just pushing the ball forward and it was really bad because you can miss the green left or whatever but I wasn’t hitting the ball at all. At least the ball flew high and I felt like I hit the ball instead of just pushing it forward.

“It felt so much better. Today I have to work on it a lot but at least I enjoyed myself on the golf course and it feels like a long time since I enjoyed playing golf.”

With neither player having registered a victory on the Ladies European Tour, it adds to the proposition of another first time winner this season.

There have already been a record 10 first time champions on the LET this year. Pace and Prieto will have their fingers crossed.