Grace's dream season continues with record round

10/4/2012 3:34:07 PM
Branden Grace  (Getty Images)
Branden Grace (Getty Images)
South African Branden Grace equalled The European Tour record with a round of 60 at Kingsbarns in the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

Already with three European Tour titles to his name this season, the 24 year old knocked two strokes off Lee Westwood's course record thanks to an eagle and ten birdies - five of them in a row to finish with.

Fourteen players have now shot 60 on The European Tour - Darren Clarke has done it twice - and like so many of the others Grace came off saying: "It could have been a 59".

He added: “Obviously it's not the easiest course I've ever seen, the conditions and things like that, but the course is definitely shorter than all the rest.

“I just gave myself a lot of chances and made everything I looked at; not that I had any major long putts or anything like that, but I just had a lot of 15 footers to tap ins the whole day and could have been one better or two better which would really be nice.” 

The Pretoria golfer leads Victor Dubuisson by two, the Frenchman's 62 at St Andrews also being a course record, while many of the big guns were left trailing in his wake after they battled with the far tougher Carnoustie.

The three Ryder Cup heroes in the field - Paul Lawrie, Martin Kaymer and Peter Hanson - returned 75, 70 and 72 respectively, with Lawrie commenting on his return to the course where he won the 1999 Open Championship: "I was a little bit tired obviously, but the first 12 holes were my worst ball-striking of the year."

Current Open Champion Ernie Els had to play the last eight in three under for a 73.

Paul McGinley struggled to a 76 but the highlight of the Irishman's day was partnering Olympic and Paralympic runner Oscar Pretorius in the celebrity pro-am.

"It was a real honour to be in his company," he said.

When Westwood had his 62 at Kingsbarns in 2003 it included an albatross two on the ninth, but Grace needed nothing as extraordinary as that.

His eagle came on the 565 yard 16th, his seventh, and took him to five under, but it was on the outward half where he really went into overdrive.

Grace birdied all but the second and fourth and came to the 558 yard ninth needing an eagle for the 59, but pushed his second wide before pitching to a foot.

Amazingly, Dubuisson threatened to overshadow him at the Home of Golf when he reached 11 under with three to play.

Two more birdies and he would have had the elusive and magical 59, but the 22 year old bogeyed the 371 yard seventh and parred the last two.

He switches to Carnoustie tomorrow, while Grace is at St Andrews.