Pace, whose gait calls to mind someone walking barefoot over rocks, was five rounds short of the Aon minimum going into her most recent start, at the Portland Classic in Oregon in late August. She played the first 36 holes in 11 under par while taking mostly half-swings with her driver to protect her injured back. She went into the weekend tied for fourth — and fully aware that a top-three finish would pave her way into the lucrative, limited-field fall events in Asia for which she has not yet qualified.
She played the final 36 holes in eight over par and finished tied for 57th — but somehow she remained atop the Aon Challenge standings. Pace’s plan was to play in both of the final two events in the United States before the tour moved to Asia, starting with this week’s tournament in Indianapolis.
Her body had other plans.
“Unfortunately, playing four rounds in Portland did more damage,” said Pace, who added, “I don’t think it will be wise to play two more events with a back injury.”
During the three weeks of September that the L.P.G.A. Tour was on hiatus for the Solheim Cup, Pace returned to her part-time residence in France, where she received a diagnosis of a spinal disorder, Maignes Syndrome, which is characterized by difficulty twisting the torso without great discomfort.
Crisscrossing continents takes a toll on the body in the best of circumstances. But with Pace in serious pain and her game failing, the decision to bypass the tournament in Indianapolis this week to rest came easier.
“When you’re not playing well, there’s no real sense in keeping at it,” Pace said. “I feel like I can do a lot more with my life now, nearly being 40, than to keep traveling and be away from my family.”
Pace grew up in wine country, in Paarl, in the Western Cape province, and though she rarely returns during the season because it’s too far to travel during her weeks off, it is never far from her mind. Pace’s sister, Krog, this year had her first child, a daughter named Cara whom Pace described as “the light of my life.”