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Sunday, 14 January 2018
Day 4 Highlights - BMW SA Open

Chris Paisley sealed his first European Tour crown following an impressive three-stroke victory at the BMW SA Open Championship Proudly hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni.

Paisley began the final round as the overnight leader with a one-shot advantage but rose to the pressure of playing partner Branden Grace, who briefly led after an explosive start, to post an unblemished six-under par 66 to finish on 21 under at Glendower Golf Club.

The 31 year old, who was caddied by his wife Keri for the first time, became the third Englishman to win the event in the last four seasons after Andy Sullivan won the tournament in 2015 and Graeme Storm's success last year.

"I’m just so happy with how the week went and to get the win, for not only myself and Keri, but for everyone that’s stood behind me. It's unbelievable," Paisley said. 

"I still can't believe it. Going head-to-head against Branden, in his home country with pretty much everyone in the crowd on his side was tough but I just played great.

"I played out of my skin. I didn't even think I was capable of playing that well to be honest, and to come out on top in such a wonderful place is amazing."

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 to the top as joint leader.

Grace, an eight-time European tour winner, 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 four shots when he birdied at the seventh and tenth,to move to 19 under before holing out his 23rd gain of the tournament at the 13th to move up to 20-under par.

Coming up the last fairway with her next to me was just incredible - Chris Paisley

Grace, who aimed to become only the second player to win South Africa's three most prestigious events, behind player host Ernie Els, brought himself back in contention with a run of bogey-eagle-par from the 12th before moving up to 17 under with a gain at the 15th.

Paisley recorded his sixth birdie after another great rescue shot from the bunker at the par five 15th to maintain his four-shot advantage, but when Grace hit his approach to 16th to concession range for birdie, he cut the gap to three at 18 under.

A par-par finish was enough for the 31 year old to secure his maiden European Tour title, and first since the English Challenge on the Challenger Tour in July 2012.

Paisley also paid tribute to his stand-in caddie, saying: "My regular caddie is getting some stick but I just can't say enough about how good of a job she has done this week and just in life in general.

"She doesn’t know that much about golf but she knows me really well and she knows when I’m going a little quicker than I usually do or getting a bit tight.

"Coming up the last fairway with her next to me was just incredible."

South African JC Ritchie soared into third place following a colourful seven under 65, which consisted of two eagles, five birdies and two bogeys to sit two shots behind compatriot Grace.

Els finished the tournament on eight-under par, while compatriot 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 ended his chances as the 41 year old registered an eight-under par 64 for the day and 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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