Pace trails by two in Taiwan

Lee-Anne PaceSouth Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace battled blustery conditions at the Miramar Golf Country Club in Taipei, Taiwan to finish within striking distance of Sakura Yokomine from Japan in the opening round of the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship on Thursday.

Yokomine opened with a five-under-par 67 for a one-stroke lead over Amy Yang from Korea and Americans Brooke Henderson and Paula Creamer.

Pace finished two shots back in tie for fifth with South Korean pair Ha Na Jang and Hee Young Park, Spain’s Beatriz Recari and local favourite Ai Miyazato.

Playing alongside Jang and Miyazato, the LPGA Tour winner birdied 12 and 16 but surrendered a shot just before the turn. She got it back to two under with a birdie at the par three third, and dipped to four under with a brace of birdies at six and seven, but dropped a further shot at the par four eighth.

Pace aims to compete in all six events on the Asian Swing, a journey that started last week in China with a disappointing 68th.

Compatriot Paula Reto, coming off a 41st place finish in the Reignwood LPGA Classic in Beijing, will also be making the LPGA Tour’s six week journey that will travel to South Korea next, back to China, and then on to Malaysia and Japan.

Reto mixed three birdies with five bogeys, but an unfortunate double bogey at the 18th saw her tie for 61st on four-over-par 76.

Thirty-year-old Yokomine has 23 victories on the Japan LPGA Tour, but the Japanese player is still hunting a maiden win in her third season on the LPGA Tour.

She drained a 15-footer for eagle at the par-five 12th and notched three birdies on the back nine before dropping a shot at the par-five closing hole.

“My shots were good, but it was strong, a strong wind today. Each shot I had to concentrate.”

Defending champion Lydia Ko dropped two shots at the fifth on her way to an opening 70. She shares 10th spot with Shanshan Feng from China and South Koreans Eun-Hee Ji and Hyo Joo Kim. The world number one clinched the title by nine strokes last year.

Fourth-ranked Henderson has had two victories this year, winning the major KPMG Women's PGA in June and successfully defending her Cambia Portland Classic title in July.

Playing in the last group of the day, she birdied three of the final four holes to get within a shot of the first round pacesetter. “It was very windy out there so you really had to pay attention,” said the 19-year-old Canadian.

Creamer, who won the last of her 10 LPGA Tour titles in February 2014 in Singapore, enjoyed a flawless outing in the windy conditions.

Meanwhile Florentyna Parker opened the Lacoste Ladies Open Open de France with a sparkling seven-under-par 63 to lead by one stroke over American Beth Allen in St Jean-de-Luz.

South Africans Stacy Bregman, Nicole Garcia and Connie Chen tied for 41st with trio of 72s.

PHOTO - Lee-Anne Pace; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.

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