South African golfer Lee-Anne Pace is determined to take inspiration from Open champion Louis Oosthuizen as she plays in her first Evian Masters, presented by Société Générale, starting in France on Thursday.
Pace, who plays at the same golf club as Oosthuizen in Mossel Bay in the Western Cape, celebrated her maiden Ladies European Tour victory at the Deutsche Bank Ladies Swiss Open a month ago.
Her fine form continued with a tie for fifth at the Portugal Ladies Open and a tie for fourth place in Tenerife. She is hoping to resume in similar fashion after a two week break.
The 29-year-old, ranked second on the Ladies European Tour’s Henderson Money List behind Laura Davies, is hoping for a strong finish at Evian Masters Golf Club at Evian-les-Bains, where she is one of 111 competitors in a field containing 24 of the world’s top 25 players.
Despite not being a Major Championship on the US LPGA Tour’s calendar, the tournament is a designated Major on the Ladies European Tour, so Pace will take heart from Oosthuizen’s Open Championship performance.
She said: ‘Congratulations to Louis; amazing, a true inspiration. I wish I could have seen it but I was on a plane unfortunately coming here. From what I hear he played amazing. He’s such a good golfer and he’s got so much talent, you have no idea.’
She revealed that Oosthuizen holds the course record of 57, 15-under-par, at Mossel Bay Golf Club in South Africa, where he can drive seven of the par fours and returns regularly to play in competitions.
‘I know Louis pretty well. We played for South Africa together in the World Championships in Puerto Rico so in 2003, I think. He and Charl were in the team. I’ve known him for a while. We are from the same area. He lives like, half an hour from me and we play a bit of golf together.’
A strong international field of competitors has assembled alongside Pace at Evian, which includes the newly crowned World No.1 Ai Miyazato of Japan, who is the defending champion, last week’s US Women’s Open champion Paula Creamer and the recent LPGA Champion Cristie Kerr.
Pace played the 6345-yard par 72 course in the Pro-Am on Wednesday, in temperatures of 30°C and said: ‘I love it. It’s actually a lot like the courses in South Africa in the north, Jo’burg area. A little tighter, small greens, fast greens and I like it a lot. I started hitting the ball nicely again today so I’m pretty happy with my game.’
She will tee off at 9.31am on Thursday alongside the 15-year-old US sensation Alexis Thompson, who is playing in her third event as a professional, as well as former European No.1 Gwladys Nocera from France.
The first round begins at 6.50am on Thursday and come Sunday evening the winner will take home a 487,500 USD first prize.