South Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace vaulted into the top 60 on the LPGA Tour’s Official Money List with a top four finish at the Marathon Classic in Ohio, while Ladies European Tour rookie Nicole Garcia broke a run of missed cuts to earn her first cheque in Germany on Sunday.
Pace carded a final round 71 at the Highland Meadows Golf Club to join American Kelly Tan and Katherine Kirk from New Zealand in fourth on 11-under-par 273.
The trio finished four shots behind 17-year-old Lydia Ko from New Zealand, who edged out South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu with a flawless 65 to triumph on 15-under-par 269.
Ko’s $210,000 first place cheque makes her the youngest player to earn $1-million on the LPGA circuit, but Pace’s share of fourth paid off handsome dividends, too.
Just seven days after Pace broke into the top 90 on the Money List in the USA and rose 10 spots to 92nd in the LPGA Tour’s Race to the CME Globe with a tie for 29th at the Ricoh British Women’s Open, the 33-year-old Pearl Valley golfer enjoyed another huge climb in the rankings.
The eight-time LET champion only has limited starts on the LPGA Tour in 2014, but a season’s best performance in Ohio has brought her a lot closer to a full card for 2015.
A cheque worth nearly $60,000 (approximately R637,000) lifted the reigning Investec Cup for Ladies champion to 57th on the Money List and boosted her to 63rdin the CME rankings.
Pace held a share of the overnight lead with American Laura Diaz after rounds of 66, 66 and 68.
She parred the first three holes, but slipped from contention after a bogey at the par-four fourth. She played the next five holes to par to turn in one over, and rallied with a birdie at the par-three 11th to move to third on her own.
Pace slipped out of contention again after back-to-back bogeys at the 14th and 15th holes, but rallied once again with a birdie at the 16th and got herself back in the top four with a birdie at the par-five 18th.
Meanwhile Garcia joined compatriots Stacy Lee Bregman and fellow LET rookie Kim Williams on the weekend at Ladies German Open near Munich.
The Sunshine Ladies Tour regular bookended 72s in the second and third rounds with an opening 68 and a closing 76 at the Wörthsee Golf Club to finish on even-par 288.
After five straight missed cuts, making the weekend meant far more to the 23-year-old from Ebotse Golf Estate than her share of 58th, worth €787.50 (approximately R11,300).
“I’ve been plagued with nerves in my previous starts,” Garcia said. “It was great to make it to the weekend and I think I finally got the monkey off my back.”
Bregman followed back-to-back 70s with a 73 and a 68 and Williams returned rounds of 72, 68, 67 and 74 to tie for 36th on seven-under-par 281.
The pair finished 19 shots behind Scotland’s Kylie Walker, who defeated Charley Hull from England at the first play-off hole to clinch the title.