Pace, Babnik weather Cape storms to lead SA Women’s Open

15 May 2021

Lee-Anne Pace

Lee-Anne Pace and Pia Babnik will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the Investec South African Women’s Open after tying on two-over in battling the conditions during the weather-affected third round at Westlake Golf Club on Saturday.

Pace was walking down the ninth fairway and Babnik about to tee off on the 10th tee when the hooter sounded for the second time in 90 minutes.

“We had only been out for 30 minutes after the previous suspension when they called us off again,” said Pace, who is hunting a record fourth title in the Sunshine Tour’s season-finale. “The wind and the driving rain were relentless; we had come off when the course became unplayable and had to suspend again, so they made a decision was made to call it a day.”

The nine-time European Ladies Tour champion began the day on one-over and a shot behind overnight leader Nicole Garcia, while the 17-year-old Slovenian rising star was three off the pace.

“I’m glad I hung in there,” said Pace, who started with four straight pars before she sandwiched a birdie between bogeys on the fifth and seventh holes.

“It’s one thing playing in wind, but the playing this course in wind and rain is extremely hard. I nearly blew away on six, and on seven. It was just a disaster and I think they’ve made a good call. I am not complaining, because I was looking at a really long second shot on the ninth. It will still be a long shot on Sunday morning, but at least I’m not having to hit it into the wind. It’s quite tight at the top, but I think it’s going to be an exciting final day.”

Pia Babnik

Pia Babnik during round three of the 2021 Investec South African Women’s Open at Westlake Golf Club; Credit Petri Oeschger/Sunshine Ladies Tour

Babnik, who is starting her second Ladies European Tour season in South Africa, showed great maturity in the tough conditions. She threaded together a string of pars and turned with a clean card that sported a birdie on the par-5 seventh.

Garcia, meanwhile, started with a pair of bogeys and let another shot slip on the par-4 fifth. She will resume her campaign on Sunday morning on three-over.

“I had a few bogeys, but overall, I stuck in there. I holed some crucial putts from six to eight to keep the momentum,” said the Serengeti golfer.

“It was more Scotland than South Africa out there, and I must admit I was relieved when called us off, because the balls began moving on the greens. I was pleased with my game, though. I stayed calm, kept the clubs dry and tried to hit as many good shots as possible.

“I’m not out of it by a long shot, but even if I don’t win, I’m still fighting for a top four finish to earn that spot to the U.S. Women’s Open.”

Leonie Harm got off with a great birdie start, but the German golfer dropped three shots mid-round.

She moved to four-over with a fourth bogey on the seventh and was tied for fourth with Agathe Sauzon from France when play was called. Sauzon had just birdied the par-4 10th.

Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.

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