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Pace beats Masson for 1st LPGA title in Blue Bay
October 27, 2014

Interviews:
Rolex Rankings No. 42 Lee-Anne Pace (-16)
Rolex Rankings No. 52 Caroline Masson (-13)

After four days of heavy rain fall and delays, Lee-Anne Pace was finally crowned the Blue Bay LPGA champion on Monday morning at Jian Lake Blue Bay Golf Course. Pace finished her final five holes on Monday morning and hung on for the three-shot victory over Caroline Masson. She finished atop the leaderboard at 16-under par for her first LPGA Tour win. Pace becomes the sixth Rolex First-Time Winner this season and said it was worth all the wait.

Final-round play was planned to resume at 8:30 a.m. on Monday but was delayed until 9:55 a.m. due to dangerous weather and unplayable conditions.

“I can’t actually believe it. I’m still so in the moment of one shot at a time that I think it’s going to hit me,” said Pace. “It’s like literally now I can relax. It’s amazing. Obviously one of my life goals, not only on the golf course, but to do some­thing like that very special.”

The final group started Monday morning on the 14th hole and Pace said she stayed patient through the final delay and had an extra cup of coffee to get things going.

“I woke up and heard the weather outside,” said Pace referring to the rain and thunder. “So I had a fairly good idea it’s going to be delayed. So I took my time, got coffee. I knew it was going to be delayed and went for a lengthy breakfast. I had a lot of coffee, felt tired this morning but all in all felt pretty confident. I knew I was hitting well. I knew I could do it down the stretch. I’ve done it before.”

Pace stayed steady through the final stretch with pars on Nos. 14-17. Germany’s Caroline Masson made a late charge with four birdies on her final six holes including three in a row to finish on Nos. 16 -18 but it was too little too late.

“I’m happy with that finish and that was all I could do,” said Masson. “Obviously I wanted to play. I was in a good po­sition and wanted to play. I knew we were going to play and we probably were going to play in any condition. So I think it’s hard to have a good attitude, you know, but just once you get out there, do that, and I fought hard.”

Pace, who was coming off her ninth-career Ladies European Tour victory last week said confidence in her swing this week was never an issue.

“I look back at last week and how I actually played better towards the end,” said Pace. “So I thought, you know, just do the same thing and I hit some really nice iron shots coming in on the last few holes. To out with a birdie is obviously a bonus. I saw Caroline making a move but I said to myself, you’re far ahead, come on.”

With Masson in the clubhouse and two shots back, Pace kept her composed demeanor she held all week and went to the 18th with a confident stride. She hit her third shot on the par 5 18th hole to about five feet from the hole and said made a point to enjoy the walk up the 18th fairway.

“When I hit the shot quite close, I thought ‘all right, it’s good now. I was pretty relaxed,” said Pace. “I was like ‘yeah, you can enjoy this.’ Jessica (Korda) came over and was like ‘enjoy this walk.’ I was like ‘I will.’

Americans Michelle Wie and Jessica Korda finished in a tie for third at 11-under par.

Joining the first timers: With her win, Pace joins five other LPGA members to record their first-career victories in 2014. Pace knew her win was a statement victory for her career but hopes it can also boost golf in South Africa. She said the final round was being picked up back in her home country and had family and friends up in the early hours watching every shot.

“Especially the people back home put it on, the SuperSport people put it on so people back home could watch. So my whole family got up at 2:30 and saw it. That was nice.”

Pace joins 15-time winner Sally Little as the only South African-born players to win on the LPGA.

“I think it’s pretty big for South African golf. We are definitely on the up and with all those tournaments we have now, the smaller tournaments, hopefully this will help increase the prize money, increase the interest. I think that already is a step in the right direction. So hopefully we get some good ones coming out on Tour soon. We’ve already got a few good players and I hope that we can get a few more South Africans on the LPGA.”

Rolex First-Time Winners in 2014
Lydia Ko – Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic
Lizette Salas – Kingsmill Championship
Mo Martin – RICOH Women’s British Open
Mirim Lee – Meijer LPGA Classic
Austin Ernst – Portland Classic
Lee-Anne Pace – Blue Bay LPGA

Click here for final scores & prize money.

INTERVIEWS

Rolex Rankings No. 42 Lee-Anne Pace (-16)

Q. How did you sleep last night?
LEE-ANNE PACE: Absolutely fine. I was quite tired. I woke up from the thunder outside, so I thought, well, that's not a very good sign.

Q. When you woke up this morning, just getting to the course, game plan?
LEE-ANNE PACE: I woke up and I heard the weather outside. So I had a fairly good idea it's going to be delayed. So I took my time, got coffee. I knew it was going to be delayed and took my time and went for a lengthy breakfast. I had a lot of coffee, tiring this morning, but all in all felt pretty confident. I knew I was hitting it well. I knew I could do it down the stretch. I've done it before.

Q. How much of a difference was it winning last week? How confident were you with your game in general?
LEE-ANNE PACE: Exactly, I look back at last week and how I actually played better towards the end. So I thought, you know, just do the same thing and I hit some really nice iron shots coming in on the last few holes. To close out with a birdie is obviously a bonus. I saw Caroline making a move, but I said to myself, you're far ahead, come on, super fives, short par 4.

Q. How nice was it to have that lead going into 18? You were walking up with a huge smile on your face. That had to be very, very nice?
LEE-ANNE PACE: When I hit the shot quite close, I thought, all right, it's good now. I was pretty relaxed. I was like, yeah, you can enjoy this. Jessica came over and was like, enjoy this walk. I was like, I will.

Q. Your first LPGA win, you won a ton on the LET. What does this mean to you?
LEE-ANNE PACE: I can't actually believe it. I'm still so in the moment of one shot at a time that I think it's going to hit me. It's like literally -- now I can relax. It's amazing. Obviously one of my life goals, not only on the golf course, but to do something like that very special.

Especially the people back home put it on, the SuperSport people put it back on so people back home could watch. So my whole family got up at 2:30 and saw it, that was nice.

Q. What about in terms of the bigger picture, South African golf, second LPGA win, what does that mean to you?
LEE-ANNE PACE: I think it's pretty big for South African golf. We are definitely on the up and with all of those tournaments we have now, the smaller tournaments, hopefully this will help increase the prize money, increase the interest. Yeah, the interest just in women's golf in general in South Africa, and I think that already is a step in the right direction.

So hopefully we get some good ones coming out on Tour soon. We've already got quite a few good players, and I hope that we can get a few more in South Africa on the LPGA.

Q. So plans for next week, are you heading home?
LEE-ANNE PACE: Yeah, I'm going home. Hopefully getting out tonight but it's looking like tomorrow but hopefully tonight.

Q. Taking a couple weeks off?
LEE-ANNE PACE: Yeah, CME, and then Dubai. I'm playing the last one on the LET, also.

Q. So you get to enjoy it a little bit?
LEE-ANNE PACE: Yeah, I haven't been home since May, so I'm really looking forward to just going in any place and sleeping in my bed, my own coffee mug (laughing).

Q. When is the last time you were home?
LEE-ANNE PACE: May. I was supposed to leave only for one tournament, the LET in Turkey, and then got in Kingsmill, and re-ranked and I just got into everything. I literally had one week's clothes with me. I had to get people to send more. I had one week's outfit with me, and two pairs of golf shoes. Everybody had to just send it over to me.

Rolex Rankings No. 52 Caroline Masson (-13)

Q. Disappointed, your form, too late to catch up with Lee-Anne Pace?
CAROLINE MASSON: I mean, no, because we were out there battling and I tried everything I could. You know, I'm happy with that finish and that was all I could do. So, yeah.

Q. Game plan when you woke up this morning? Were you just like, all right, let's get it finished or make a charge?
CAROLINE MASSON: Obviously I wanted to play. I was in a good position and wanted to play. I knew we were going to play and we probably were going to play in any condition. So I think it's hard to have a good attitude, you know, but just once you get out there, do that, and I fought hard. I had a bad first tee shot when we got back out and saved my par.

So, yeah, you know, that gave me a little bit of confidence.

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