South African Lee-Anne Pace

(Saturday 19th September 2009) – Lee-Anne Pace of South Africa shot a career low round of seven-under 65 on Saturday to take a two stroke lead into the final round of the Randstad Open de France Dames.

Pace had a three-round total of 11-under 205 at Le Golf D’Arras, which is hosting the tournament for the tenth successive year.

Trying to win her first Ladies European Tour victory, Pace had eight birdies – with four in a row from the par-four second – and two bogeys after opening with rounds of 72 and 68.

Her career best finish in three seasons on tour came at last year’s SAS Ladies Masters in Norway, where she tied for fourth. She said that this round was due to two years of hard work.

“It is my best round. That’s totally because of James Petts, my coach. In the last two years he’s just transformed my swing and the way I think about golf, so all credit to him,” said Pace, from Paarl, 28.

She made a great start when she chipped in for birdie at the 285-yard par-four second hole and built the momentum from there.

“I missed the green on two and hit a really good chip and it went in so that’s how it started. I hit some really good shots after that, good putts also. When you’re four under after five, you’re in a good place for the rest of the day,” she added.

“My putting was good today and ball striking also, everything. I hit 16 greens and 28 putts so I’m pretty happy with everything. We just had a lot of fun out there and I’m going to try to do the same tomorrow.”

Germany’s Anja Monke, aiming for a second successive French Open title, shot 68 and shared second position with Ireland’s Rebecca Coakley, who shot 67. Coakley is aiming to become the first Irish winner on the Ladies European Tour.

First-round leader Ursula Wikstrom posted a 69 to get back in contention just three shots off the pace. She shared fourth place with the halfway leader Becky Brewerton from Wales (71), Austrian Nicole Gergely (70) and Spain’s Ana Larraneta (70), who was aiming for a podium finish after a miserable run on tour.

Round of the day came from Spain’s Tania Elosegui, who shot a career low eight-under 64, to share eighth place with Swede Carin Koch on seven-under-par.

Elosegui carded seven birdies, a bogey and an eagle at the 450-yard par-five 13th when she hit a five-iron to tap-in distance.

“I wish I could shoot eight under every day; I’m very happy,” said Elosegui, 27, who finished second to Anja Monke on the same golf course last year.

“I didn’t really like this golf course at the beginning. I think it’s more difficult than last year because the fairways are very dry. If you miss it a little bit right or left the ball really runs into the trees. It’s also an advantage because it goes farther. I’m not hitting a lot of drivers from the tee.”

With 12 players within five shots of the lead, and 16 within seven, expect a close final round battle on Sunday. The leading three players tee off at 11am.