Beijing - It has been an incredible week for women’s professional golf in South Africa with Lee-Anne Pace’s nomination for the 2013 South African Sports Awards following the WPGA’s launch of the Sunshine Ladies Tour, in collaboration with the Sunshine Tour and sponsors Investec, Sun International, SuperSport and Dimension Data.
South Africa’s first lady of golf was thrilled to learn that she has been nominated alongside long distance runner Mapaseka Makhanya and South African women’s rugby captain Mandisa Williams for the 2013 Sportswoman of the Year award.
Speaking from China, Pace said she was blown away by the nomination. “It is such an incredible honour to nominated with these ladies,” said Pace.
“I’m absolutely thrilled by the nomination and to be considered, because South Africa has a wealth of talented sports women across so many sports.
“I feel extremely honoured to be considered a worthy recipient of this prestigious title.”
The Mossel Bay golfer is currently competing in the Sanya Ladies Open in China, a tournament she won in 2010 on her way to finishing the season as the European No 1.
Pace reeled in five birdies and dropped just one shot for an opening five-under-par 67 and a share of third and trails Nikki Campbell by four shots after the Australian vaulted to the lead with a course record 63 at the Yalong Bay Golf Club.
South Africa’s Connie Chen and Stacy-Lee Bregman both opened with two under 70s to tie for 34th, with Ashleigh is a further shot adrift after an opening 71.
Pace was on her way to China when she received the news of the nomination from her parents.
“I didn’t believe my parents at first, but then more calls came as friends heard it on the news or read it on the internet,” she said. “Within two hours, almost everyone I know, had called and that’s when it really hit home.”
And Pace has an excellent chance of winning the award.
In another fantastic season, the 32-year-old has won the Ladies Spanish and the Turkish Airlines Ladies Opens, posted five top 10 finishes, including a runner-up finish in Slovakia and claimed a top 25 finish at the Ricoh Women’s British Open in a field that included the top ranked players in the world.
She currently ranks third on the ISPS Handa Order of Merit with earnings of just over €196 000, sits at 60th on the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings and has secured her spot in the final stage qualifier for the 2014 LPTA Tour in December.
The annual SA Sports Awards feature 17 categories of sporting excellence and is a collaboration between the Department of Sport and Recreation, the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) and the SABC.