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

Chris Paisley edged closer to his first European Tour title after he stormed to a four-shot lead with five holes remaining at the BMW SA Open Championship Proudly hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni.

The Englishman began the final round as the overnight leader with a one-shot advantage at 15 under but rose to the pressure of playing partner Branden Grace, who briefly led following an explosive start at Glendower Golf Club.

The World Number 30 opened up with a birdie-eagle to move one shot ahead of Paisley, who produced a great rescue for par at the first before carding a birdie at the par five second.

Paisley seemed unfazed by the South African's fast start and drained 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.

The Hexham-born golfer started the back nine is positive fashion with an approach to eight feet and when he rolled in his fourth gain of the day, he was four shots clear at 19 under.

Paisley remained composed, despite his inexperience of leading on the final day, to hole out his 23rd birdie of the tournament at the 13th to move up to 20-under par.

JC Ritchie soared into joint second place following a colourful seven under through 16 holes which consisted of two eagles, five birdies and two bogeys to move level with compatriot Grace at 16 under after the latter signed for bogey-eagle at the 12th and 13th.

Ernie Els finished the tournament on eight-under par, while fellow South African Hennie Otto looked set for a course record with two holes remaining as he recorded ten birdies and a bogey.

Otto, winner of this event in 2011, 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 at 11 under for the tournament.

France's Adrien Saddier sat in fourth at 15 under after picking up a shot at the eighth and an eagle at the 15th, while Zimbabwe's Scott Vincent and South African Jacques Kruyswijk were one shot further adrift.

American Chase Koepka, younger brother of 2017 US Open Championship winner Brooks, was joined by Italian Renato Paratore and South Africa's Darren Fichardt at 13 under.

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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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