Sunday, 14 January 2018
Chris Paisley  (Getty Images)
Chris Paisley (Getty Images)

Chris Paisley returned to the top of the leaderboard to storm to a three-stroke lead at the turn during the final round of the BMW SA Open Championship Proudly hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni.

The Englishman began as the overnight leader with a one-shot advantage at 15 under as he searched for his first European Tour title of his career at Glendower Golf Club.

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

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 Hexham-born golfer 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 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.

Paisley seemed unfazed by the South African's explosive start to his round and drained in his second gain with a wonderful 30-foot birdie putt to return as joint leader

Grace found the rough and the bunker at the par three sixth as the World Number 289 settled for a par, but when the home favourite carded a two-putt double-bogey, Paisley moved two strokes clear.

Paisley extended his lead to three shots when he holed a difficult right-to-left putt for birdie at the seventh while Grace could only muster a par on the same hole.

Els finished the tournament on eight-under par, while fellow 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.

Otto needed to card one-under par for 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 sit in a tie for 11th at 11 under for the tournament.

Jacques Blaauw sat in third at 14 under through 10 after the South African drained two eagles and two bogeys to move one shot clear of American Chase Koepka, France's Adrien Saddier, Italian Renato Paratore and compatriot JC Ritchie.

Englishman Charlie Ford signed for a six under 66 to finish on 12 under, alongside Spaniard Jorge Campillo and Sweden's Marcus Kinhult, who have five and three holes left respectively.

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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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