First Car Rental interviews golf superstar Lee-Anne Pace
November 2014 - First Car Rental caught up with South Africa's Number 1 women's golfer and brand ambassador, Lee-Anne Pace, during her short visit to South Africa after claiming two worldwide victories in October 2014 - the Cell C SA Women's Open and the Blue Bay LPGA a week later.
To find out more about Pace's recent achievements, click here.
Here is what she had to say:
Q1: Golf is enormously psychological and physical for long periods of time. But how do you mentally prepare for the immense additional pressure faced in a situation such as the play-off against Holly Clyburn in the Cell C SA Women's Open?
A: Over time and through experience of going on tour, I have gotten used to the pressure and I think that I've now learnt how to channel it in the right direction, which actually helps me to step up to the challenge.
I've also won two playoffs before, which benefited me going into that playoff at the Cell C SA Women's Open.
Birdieing the last hole in the final round also gave me a lot of confidence!
Q2: Looking back at your steady growth, it feels like your strengths, weaknesses and synergies are perfectly tuned and that everything that you have worked for is here, right now – the top of your game. Other than yourself, who is responsible for getting you here? Who do you rely on day after day, game after game, to keep you level-headed and at your best?
A: My two coaches, Val Holland and James Petts, have influenced my career tremendously. All of us have worked really hard over the last 13 years to get to this moment.
Q3: Do your coaches travel with you?
A: I see Val Holland when I'm in South Africa, usually at the beginning of the year, and then when I am in Europe I am coached by James Petts; but now James is having to travel to America more because I'm focusing on the LPGA Tour.
Q4: How does it feel to be only the second South African-born player ever to win on the LPGA Tour?
A: It feels awesome. It's a brilliant achievement for my career, which I'm very happy about.
Q5: It is hugely impressive that you are able to travel from continent to continent in short spaces of time and still win tournaments. What do you do to cope with numerous long-haul flights and jet lag when travelling so much?
A: When I flew to China for the Blue Bay Championship I was able to sleep for nine out of the 12 hour flight so I didn't feel too bad when I got there. I think I played the practice round when I was half asleep because I couldn't remember the golf course, but it seemed to work out ok.
Basically, I always try to get as much sleep as possible where and when I can and take a couple of homeopathic sleeping pills to get over the jet lag.
Q6: What is your training regime during tournaments?
A: I usually arrive at the tournament venue on the Monday, a week before the tournament and play a practice round if I haven't played on the course before. During the week I then play the course as much as possible to get a feel for everything, especially in different weather conditions, spending time and focus on getting used to the different grass and mapping the greens.
Q7: What and when is your next golf tournament?
A: In three weeks' time I'm playing in America at the CME Group Tour Championship – the season-ending event on the LPGA Tour. Then two weeks after that I'm playing the final of the Ladies European Tour in Dubai.
Q8: Off the golf course, what do you do to relax and unwind?
A: I haven't been off the course in a while (laughs), but It's fantastic to be home right now, even if it's for a short time.
I love living in the Western Cape and coming back to where I was born in Paarl and Pearl Valley. It's great to see my friends and family and spend some quality time with them. When I do get the time I like to go para-boarding in the ocean, but unfortunately that's not going to happen during this visit.
In December, I'm going to Mossel Bay for a holiday and I'm going to take my board and hopefully get a chance to go out.
Q9: The First-Pace Golf Day for Girls has been set-up by Melissa Nortje from First Car Rental and you to boost women's golf development in South Africa but at grass roots level. Do you think more needs to be done by sports authorities at this level to develop women's golf in this country?
A: I think women's golf in South Africa is slowly heading in the right direction, helped immensely by the Ladies Sunshine Tour, which is putting women's golf on the map again. If you look at the Men's Sunshine Tour, it also took a long time for it to get to where it is now.
With the added interest in women's golf now, there will be more sponsors putting money towards the sport in the future, which will help the younger girls aiming to move up from amateur to professional.
It's fantastic that First Car Rental is supporting women's golf and taking the initiative to grow and develop the sport through the First-Pace Golf Day for Girls, especially in my home area near Paarl.
Q10: What is your desired outcome from the First-Pace Golf Day for Girls?
A: It would be fantastic if we could find a young talent and then help that player develop her skills so that she can compete at a professional level one day.
Photo Source: Justin Klusener Photography
Lee-Anne Pace and Lizzie Currie, a budding golf star from Port Shepstone, at the 2014 Cell C SA Women's Open.