Finch flying high with Grace

14/01/2012 16:57:17
Richard Finch  (Getty Images)
Richard Finch (Getty Images)
Branden Grace and Richard Finch share the lead after three days of the Joburg Open as plenty of lost ground was made up at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.

Lengthy delays due to thunderstorms on the first two days meant some players had not began their second rounds at the start of the day, but by the time bad weather set in the third round was nearing its conclusion.

Finch had played just six holes of his second round on the East Course when he arrived early this morning, but his chances were boosted by a six iron hole-in-one on the 200 yard eighth.

That helped the former Irish Open winner to a second straight 66, and a share of the halfway lead with compatriot Robert Rock and George Coetzee.

When the third round began, Finch sunk a 20 footer at the par five first for birdie, only to send a birdie effort from similar range past the hole and off the green at the fourth.

He responded to the subsequent bogey with an approach to three feet at the sixth, chipped in from the bunker for an eagle at the par five eighth and curled in a 12 footer at the next for an outward 34.

A 15 footer at the 13th for birdie was Finch’s only deviation from par on the back nine before play was called off with four holes remaining.

Grace struck his approach to three feet at the 15th, the last hole he managed to finish before another storm set in, and with that putt completed a hattrick of birdies which left him five under for his round.

At 15 under Finch and Grace were one ahead of Coetzee, who notched three unanswered birdies over the first 14 holes of his third round.

Canadian Andrew Parr carded a third round 64 to claim a share of the clubhouse lead on 12 under alongside Dawie Van Der Walt (67), with Jbe Kruger on the same mark with three holes remaining.

“I don’t know how much tougher this course can play,” said Van Der Walt. “I thought they used all the really hard flags for the third round. We’ll see what they’ve got for us tomorrow.

“I’ll be firing at the flags regardless of where they put them.”