Lee-Anne Pace is known as the ‘Queen of Hainan’ by the Chinese media after three wins on the tropical island, at the 2010 and 2013 Sanya Ladies Open, as well as at the Blue Bay LPGA in 2014.
This weekend presents a third opportunity for Pace to lift the Sanya Ladies Open trophy at Yalong Bay Golf Club, which is hosting the championship for the eighth time. Speaking ahead of the three-day tournament, which starts on Friday, she said: “It’s always nice to be back in a place where you’ve won before and I really like the golf course. It’s fun to play, so it will be an exciting week. It’s almost like being on holiday here and at the same time, you play golf and make a living.”
When asked the secret to her success in China, where she also won the Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open in 2010, she said: “It’s funny because at home there’s a course with similar grass and I always seem to play well there as well, San Lameer, which is very similar: a resort course and very relaxed. Maybe it suits my personality… off the golf course!
“I’d like to win again and I think I have a chance. I’ve been playing really well lately and getting better and better as the weeks have gone by. I’m putting well, so I’ll hopefully get the ball in the hole.”
Pace, the 2010 Order of Merit winner, who won five titles on the LET that year and added three more in 2013, before winning the SA Open at San Lameer Golf Club in 2014, will be targeting her 10th LET title this weekend.
However, there’s another player looking for a hat-trick: Xiyu Lin from China, who won the title in 2014 and 2015.
Lin, who represented China at the 2016 Olympic Games, said: “I’m happy to play this event eight times in a row. I made some nice breakthroughs here over the years, so I called it my ‘Happy Land’. This year, I didn’t consider my form to be at its best, but I tried to recover to my previous standard. Hopefully, I will find my good vibes here and enjoy the whole week.”
The 2016 winner Supamas Sangchan from Thailand has also returned to defend. The other former winners were Australian France Bondad in 2011 and Cassandra Kirkland from France, in 2012, whom the LET lost to cancer earlier this year.