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Friday, 20 January 2012
Branden Grace  (Getty Images)
Branden Grace (Getty Images)
The lead is still four after two rounds of the Volvo Golf Champions at Fancourt in South Africa - but now it is local man Branden Grace rather than Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts out in front.

Grace, last man into The European Tour's winners-only event thanks to his victory at the Joburg Open last Sunday, shot 66 to reach 12 under par.

Colsaerts, on the other hand, had a 76 - 12 more than his course record first round - to drop to joint fifth place.

While that was the joint worst score of the day the best was a 65 from England's Lee Slattery.

And it not only lifted the 33 year old from 22nd to joint second with Thomas Aiken, another of the home contingent, but also earned him a new car.

Playing partner Retief Goosen (68) received the same prize as they combined with English amateur Mark Vandenberghe to win the one round team event.

José María Olazábal almost joined them in winning a car, lipping out for a hole-in-one at the short 17th, but Europe's Ryder Cup Captain - at 596th in the Official World Golf Ranking the lowest-ranked player in the 35-strong field - was happy enough with a 68 to be in fourth spot on his own.

For the second day running, though, Padraig Harrington finished with a double bogey seven and, having also dropped shots on the previous two holes, the Irishman's 73 left him with eight shots to make up like Open Champion Darren Clarke (68) and Masters Tournament winner Charl Schwartzel (67).

Only last month 23 year old Grace was at The European Tour Qualifying School in Spain, but he came through that six-day ordeal in joint tenth place and has been flying ever since.

"I'm just really enjoying it out there," he said after grabbing eight birdies.

"It's probably my favourite course in the world and coming back here is a fabulous feeling - especially playing well."

Slattery feared he would be at Qualifying School as well - in his case for the ninth time - until he won the Bankia Madrid Masters in October.

"Winning certainly gives you belief," said the 33 year old Englishman after picking up an amazing ten birdies just as Colsaerts had done in the opening round.

"That's probably my best round out there, one I'm going to remember for the rest of my life.

"Because of the team prize I was willing Retief's putts in as well. God knows what the amateur felt like, but he handled it well.

"I've had about 12 holes-in-one, but have never won a car before."

Olazábal was pleased to show signs of the form that brought him two Green Jackets before a series of injury problems, as the Spaniard targets his first victory for seven years on Sunday.

“I think the last couple of years I've played pretty poorly, so improving that, it was not all that difficult,” said the 45 year old.

Aiken has an added reason for wanting to come out on top - he is on a campaign to help save the rhino and the more publicity (and money) he can get the better.

"I've started my own charity," he said. "It's disgusting what's happening. We've got a war going on.

"Rhino horns are being valued at a million dollars. We've got tractors on the grounds, roadblocks and help from the Air Force because they are shooting them from helicopters now.

"We've got about six years left until they are extinct and if we hang around too long we are going to be too late." 

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
-ELS, ErnieRSA-12
-GOOSEN, RetiefRSA-12
-GRACE, BrandenRSA-12
-COLSAERTS, NicolasBEL-11
-SCHWARTZEL, CharlRSA-10
-OLAZÁBAL, José MaríaESP-8
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