Bertine Strauss and Lee-Anne Pace gave the Investec stable a double reason for celebration when both players bagged a hat-trick in the Sunshine Ladies Tour’s final event on Saturday. Strauss powered to a third victory in a row with a wire-to-wire performance at Millvale Private Retreat, while Pace sealed a third successive Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies title with a tie for second. Although Pace dominated with podium finishes in all four of her starts this season, it was the rookie who set the tone in the season-ending showpiece near Koster from the get-go when she followed an opening 69 with a 71 to open up a five stroke lead on the field.
The 24-year-old Koster golfer birdied the second and negated bogeys at five, 10 and 15 with a trio of birdies to stay well clear of the chasing pack in the final round. She finished with a double bogey-bogey combination, but a 74 was more than good enough to guarantee a five stroke victory on two-under-par 214. Strauss collected the R100 000 winner-takes-all cheque and padded her rapidly expanding bank account with another R200K when she vaulted from fifth to second in the final points standings.
Strauss, who was the only player in the 10-strong field to finish in red numbers, says: ‘I’m just over the moon that I could win this one in front of my family and people who have made a huge impact on my career. I played really well over the first six holes, and that settled me down but I made a silly bogey at 15. I hit a decent shot into 17, but the wind was off the right and I ended up in the water. That was a bit unnecessary, but I had a lot of shots in hand. I lagged it up to eight feet at 18, and missed the par-putt, but at that point the bogey hardly mattered. Putting myself into contention and pulling off three victories on the Sunshine Ladies Tour has been a great experience for me and hopefully I can go to the States and make it four in a row!’ Pace competed on three continents over the last five weeks and it looked like all the travelling was catching up to the LPGA Tour winner. She was slow off the mark with rounds of 73 and 74 and lagged one shot behind 2016 Ladies Tshwane Open champion Monique Smit, who needed just 70 points to claim the number one spot in the points race.
The LPGA Tour winner knew she needed a solid performance in the final round. Pace says: ‘It was close and when I bogeyed the first I actually thought here we go again.’ Pace birdied the second and picked up another gain at four, and erased a double bogey at five with back-to-back birdies at eight and nine.
She got to two under with a fifth birdie at 11, but bogeys at 17 and 18 saw her close with a 72 and she slipped to joint second on three over 219 with England’s Rebecca Hudson, who also posted a 72. Pace, who banked the winner’s share worth R400 000 of the R1-million Bonus Pool, says: ‘I hit the ball as good as always, but I might have given Bertine a run for her money if I got the putter working better. I am really happy that I got my hat-trick. Holding this trophy for a third time makes the jet-lag and fatigue worth it. It’s so important to me to support the Sunshine Ladies Tour and I am so proud of how far this Tour has come in the last three years. We have not only shown incredible growth in the prize money, but the standard has really improved and the victories are becoming tougher to attain. That’s what we hoped for in 2014 and I believe we are only going to get stronger and stronger.’
Pace topped the standings with 2 250 points, while Strauss edged out Smit for second with 1 972 points after the Southern Cape golfer closed with a 79 to tie for eighth. A cheerful Smit says: ‘This was an incredible season and it keeps getting better and better and better. A cheque worth R125 000 is a tidy sum and a pretty great consolation prize any day!’
214 – Bertine Strauss (RSA) 69 71 74
219 – Rebecca Hudson (ENG) 73 74 72, Lee-Anne Pace (RSA) 73 74 72
220 – Ashleigh Simon (RSA) 73 72 75
221 – Melissa Eaton (RSA) 73 75 73, Stacy Bregman (RSA) 75 77 69
222 – Nobuhle Dlamini (SWZ) 76 72 74
CHASE TO THE INVESTEC CUP FOR LADIES FINAL STANDINGS
POS NAME POINTS EVENTS PLAYED
1 Lee-Anne Pace 2 250 5
2 Bertine Strauss 1 972 5
3 Monique Smit 1 895 9
4 Rebecca Hudson ENG 1 670 7
5 Ashleigh Simon 1 575 6
Photo credit: Sunshine Ladies Tour