Champion Lee-Anne Pace with President of the RFEG Gonzaga Escauriaza

Lee-Anne Pace closed out the Open de España to claim her second Ladies European Tour victory this season and returned to the top of the ISPS HANDA Order of Merit.

The 32-year-old South African, who won in Turkey two months previously, collected her seventh win on Tour, with a final round of 71 at Club de Campo Villa de Madrid.

The 2010 LET money list winner started the final round tied for the lead with Frenchwoman Celine Herbin but quickly took control of the championship with four birdies in her first seven holes.

Although she had built a four stroke lead, the drama increased after she took a double bogey on the 17th, reducing her lead to one with a hole to play.

A regulation par four on the final hole was enough for Pace to earn a one shot victory over Mikaela Parmlid of Sweden and take the first prize of 52,500 euro, with a 72-hole total of 275, 13-under-par. Joanna Klatten of France shot a level par 72 to end on nine-under-par in solo third.

Pace birdied the first and then first three straight birdies from the fifth. She three-putted the short ninth and her lead was cut to two after a second bogey on 12. However, while Herbin’s challenge stalled with a double bogey on 13, Parmlid was making up ground.

The Swede dropped a shot on 16, before Pace’s second shot on the short 17th flew out of the bunker and over to the other side of the narrow green. After her chip shot ended 15 feet short of the hole, she two-putted for a five.

“On 17 I went straight at the pin and probably should have gone a little bit right but I had a small draw and a mental error cost me two shots but I’m really happy I won,” Pace said.

“The bunker was actually quite hard and had a bit of a bounce. I thought it was going to be softer. It flew over. Then I had a fluffy lie. I think it hit somebody over the green so thank you to the guy who stopped my ball!

“I thought, ‘re-group, recover, you’ve been hitting it well all week so smash it down the middle.”

The steely South African’s ball duly split the 18th fairway and she two-putted for a regulation par.  

As is the usual custom on the LET, fellow professional golfers, including Anne-Lise Caudal, Sophie Sandolo and Ashleigh Simon, ran onto the green and poured the champion in water, which was appropriate on this occasion, given the hot and sticky climate, in 34C.

It was a doubly successful day for South Africa, since Ashleigh Simon chipped in for eagle on the par-5 fourth hole in a 69, to share of fifth place with Frenchwoman Gwladys Nocera on seven-under-par.

Although Carlota Ciganda and Marta Silva tied for seventh, with Linda Wessberg, Minea Blomqvist and Titiya Plucksataporn, Spain’s hopes for its first home champion will have to wait another year.

Runner-up, Mikaela Parmlid from Sweden