20 July 2014 – Reigning Investec Cup for Ladies champion Lee-Anne Pace is just 18 holes away from landing her first LPGA Tour title after she grabbed a share of the third round lead at the Marathon Classic in Ohio on Saturday.
The country’s top golf export lagged four off the pace in Sylvania after American Laura Diaz fired a flawless nine-under-par 62 on Thursday.
Pace protected her joint second place with a 68 on Friday, while the 15-year LPGA Tour veteran returned a 69 to stay three shots clear.
However, while the American went around the Highland Meadows Golf Club in 71 strokes, Pace dipped three shots below par in Saturday’s third round to grab a share of pole at the 54-hole mark.
The leading pair is one shot clear of South Korean Ryu So-Yeon and Jaye Marie Green from the United States.
Pace, an eight-time Ladies European Tour champion, has made the LPGA Tour her focus this season after gaining a conditional card in December last year. She came into the Marathon Classic after a tie for 29th at the Ricoh British Women’s Open.
The Pearl Valley golfer was excited to be in contention for her first LPGA title.
“Europe is quite a bit different from America,” said Pace.
“I think the courses are a little stricter, like the pins are more difficult. So, just for my own golf, it’ll mean quite a lot to be able to come out here and play well. It already has made my week. I was so tired in the beginning of the week and now this happened. I’m very excited.”
Pace turned in two under after birdies at the third and ninth. She wiped out back-to-back bogeys at the 12th and 13th with a pair of birdies at the 14th and 15thand reeled in one more birdie at the par-five 17th before closing with successive pars.
The 33-year-old former Ladies European Tour number one won three times last year. She knows how to close out for victory and plans to keep things simple in the final round.
“I’m not going to think about winning,” she said. “I play a very similar type of game every time I go out there…fairways, greens, try to make the putts.
“So far it’s been working, although I hope to hit more fairways on Sunday, so I can get good impact on the iron shots into the greens. Play the safe side of the pin each time and having a makeable putt.
“Hopefully, coming down the stretch, it’s going to be enough.
Meanwhile, compatriot Paula Reto tied for 67th after a third round 72, while Ashleigh Simon slipped to 77th after returning a four over 75.