Branden Grace defies tricky winds to take two-shot lead on home turf

2010-11-18 00:00

GEORGE — Yesterday’s magic on the final hole turned into a stroke of genius today for Branden Grace as he managed to extend his lead to two shots at the Coca-Cola Championship hosted by Gary Player.

Grace managed to minimise his mistakes with three birdies and two bogeys to fire a solid one-under par 71 today as heavy crosswinds terrorised the players.

“It was really tough out there,” he said. “It was so hard to judge distances and to choose the right clubs, but I am happy with the way I played.”

He was in fact only one of two players to record under-par rounds, with George Coetzee’s 69 the other.

This could have all been different had he not made a crucial save on the final hole when he managed to up-and down for par after his well-struck second shot got blown into the water left of the green.

“I would have been quite unhappy with a bogey finish especially with a seven iron in my hand for the second shot,” he said.

Grace is now the solo leader going into the final round on five-under par and the prospect of a win on a course where he has grown up playing has got him rearing to go.

“It would be really special,” he said. “I love playing Fancourt, and I’ve grown up playing golf here, so it would be awesome, and plus I will have a lot of friends and family here tomorrow to support me so it would be nice for me and for them.”

Grace holds a two shot lead over Justin Walters, who is alone in second on three-under par after firing a level par round. Coetzee and Darren Fichardt are joint third on two-under par, and both of them will pose a serious challenge, with Fichardt having won the Dimension Data Pro-Am here earlier this year, and Coetzee looking for some home comfort after a disappointing campaign on the European Tour.

Joint overnight leader Josh Cunliffe will also have a chance to secure his maiden title, but will have some work to do after his three-over par 75 put him back in joint fifth along with Tjaart van der Walt, Chris Swanepoel, and Jake Roos.

Scores (RSA unless specified):

139 -Branden Grace 68 71

141 -Justin Walters 69 72

142 -George Coetzee 73 69, Darren Fichardt 69 73

143 -Tjaart van der Walt 69 74, Chris Swanepoel 70 73, Josh Cunliffe 68 75, Jake Roos 71 72

144 -Ulrich van den Berg 72 72

145 -Bradford Vaughan 73 72, Adilson da Silva (BRA) 71 74

147 -Neil Schietekat 73 74

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