Coming off back-to-back victories in the SuperSport Challenge and Tshwane Open, the world number 31 fired a four-under-par 68 to open up a yawning three shot gap on Southern Cape’s Monique Smit.
Pace has a comfortable five stroke cushion on 2015 Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies leader Melissa Eaton, four-time Sunshine Tour winner Stacy Bregman and England’s Lucy Williams, and is six strokes clear of Nicole Garcia and Sunshine Ladies Tour rookie Monja Richards.
The 33-year-old Pearl Valley golfer got off to a flying start with birdies at the second and fourth, but dropped a shot at the par-five eighth to turn one under.
She bounced back with in style with back-to-back birdies at the 10th and 11th, and notched another brace of birdies at the 14th and 15th after a four at the par-three 13th.
“I hit the ball very well from the tee and my short game was really good,” the LPGA Tour winner said.
“I gave myself a lot of chances, especially on the back nine and managed to make quite a few of them. I didn’t really put myself into any trouble, which is always a bonus, and it’s nice to go into the weekend with a cushion,” she said.
Pace hopes to finish in double figures on Sunday, especially if the Lost City layout is set up the same as last year when she claimed the inaugural Investec Cup for Ladies.
Smit might lag three off the pace, but after sub-standard par to her season, but the 2014 Investec Cup for Ladies runner-up was thrilled to be back to form.
The Southern Cape golfer turned two under after birdies at the fifth and ninth, and notched a third birdie at the par-five 11th.
“I was upset that I spoiled a great run with the double-bogey at the 17th, but you just have to get over it really quickly.
“I’m just really excited that I am contending again. I had a really disappointing start to the season and decided to change clubs. It might have been psychological, but my game definitely picked up and I got myself into the top 10 to qualify,” she said.