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Sunday, 14 January 2018
Branden Grace  (Getty Images)
Branden Grace (Getty Images)

Home favourite Branden Grace soared to the top of the leaderboard during the final round of the BMW SA Open Championship Proudly hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni.

Grace started the final day in sole second at 14 under, one shot behind Chris Paisley, as he aimed to become only the second player to secure South Africa's three most prestigious events, behind player host Ernie Els, with victory at Glendower Golf Club.

The South African asserted the pressure on the overnight leader with a terrific 335-yard drive down the first before he dialled in an approach to four feet as Paisley found the fairway bunker.

The Englishman found the rough with his second but managed to rescue a par following a great up-and-down and when Grace rolled in a birdie, he was the joint leader. 

Paisley, who is searching for his maiden European Tour title, recorded his first birdie of the day at the par five second to regain the lead, despite finding a divet with his tee shot as his eagle putt from the fringe just missed the right edge of the hole.

However, the lead changed hands moments later as playing partner Grace, who almost holed out his second shot for an albatross, rolled in his fourth eagle of the tournament to move to 17 under.

The World Number 30 dialled in to 25 feet on the next to present another birdie chance but his putt pulled up inches short to maintain his one-shot advantage as Paisley parred in a confident opening three holes.

Els finished the tournament on eight-under par, while former Ryder Cup player Jamie Donaldson, who recorded the first hole-in-one of 2018, was one shot further back.

Jacques Blaauw sat in third at 14 under through four after the South African drained a lovely 25-foot eagle putt at the second to move two shots clear of Englishman Charlie Ford, France's Adrien Saddier, Italian Renato Paratore and compatriot Darren Fichardt.

Ford hit seven birdies and one dropped shot in his 12 holes and Paratore turned in an eagle and gain in a blemish-free front nine, while playing partner Fichardt and Saddier carded one under and level par through six holes respectively.

South African Hennie Otto, winner of this event in 2011, looked set for a course record with two holes remaining as he recorded ten birdies and a bogey for nine under for the round.

Otto needed to card one-under par on the final two holes to set a new record, but a second dropped shot at the 17th and a par at the last hampered his chances.

The 41 year old still registered the round of the day with an eight-under par 64 to join American Chase Koepka, younger brother of 2017 US Open Championship winner Brooks, at 11 under for the tournament.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1PAISLEY, ChrisENG18-21
2GRACE, BrandenRSA18-18
3RITCHIE, JCRSA18-16
T4VINCENT, ScottZIM18-14
T4KRUYSWIJK, JacquesRSA18-14
T4BLAAUW, JacquesRSA18-14

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