Saturday, 30 January 2016
Branden Grace - hits his tee shot on the 5th hole during the final round of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters  (Getty Images)
Branden Grace - hits his tee shot on the 5th hole during the final round of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters (Getty Images)

Branden Grace was on course to be the first man ever to successfully defend the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters title as he took a one-shot lead into the back nine during the final round at Doha Golf Club.

The South African has been in sparkling form this season, finishing in the top ten in all four of his events so far, and he turned in 35 on Saturday to get to 12 under and open up a one-shot lead over Thorbjørn Olesen and Lee Slattery.

Two-time champion Paul Lawrie came into the final day with a two-shot lead but he played the front nine in 39, with a double bogey on the ninth seriously denting his chances of becoming the first man to win the Mother of Pearl Trophy three times.

He was two off the lead alongside Andrew Johnston, with Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Tommy Fleetwood a further shot back on another typically windy day in Qatar.

Johnston birdied the first to close the gap but the leading group responded in style.

Lawrie chipped onto the first nicely to set up a tap-in birdie and Grace's approach got to within two feet as he also made a gain.

A birdie on the second got Cabrera-Bello to 11 under with Slattery moving a shot behind, but an unfortunate lie off a wayward tee shot saw Lawrie drop a shot on the same hole and the lead was down to one.

Olesen made a birdie on the fourth to join Grace at 12 under and when both Grace and Lawrie bogeyed the next, the Dane was in a tie for the lead.

Grace is made of stern stuff, though, and he bounced back with a birdie on the sixth to make it a three-way tie for the lead.

Fleetwood had opened with a bogey but he had birdies on the second and sixth to get to 11 under as Johnston had a first bogey of the day on the eighth.

The eighth was proving tricky and, while Slattery made a birdie from the fringe, Cabrera-Bello had a double and Fleetwood also dropped a shot with another bogey coming on the ninth.

Lawrie was then in serious trouble off the tee on the ninth and a double dented his hopes, with a Johnston birdie on the next getting him to within two of the lead.

Richard Bland was at eight under alongside Grégory Bourdy and Joost Luiten, while Søren Kjeldsen set the clubhouse target at six under with an impressive 68.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1GRACE, BrandenRSA18-14
T2CABRERA-BELLO, RafaESP18-12
T2OLESEN, ThorbjørnDEN18-12
T4DREDGE, BradleyWAL18-11
T4JOHNSTON, AndrewENG18-11
T4SLATTERY, LeeENG18-11

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