Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 17 January 2020

Branden Grace unleashes birdie blitz to win South African Open by three shots

South African lifts first title since the 2017 Nedbank Golf Challenge

Branden Grace with the South African Open trophy at Randpark Golf Club in Johannesburg. Getty Images
Branden Grace with the South African Open trophy at Randpark Golf Club in Johannesburg. Getty Images

Four consecutive birdies helped Branden Grace secure a three-shot victory on Sunday at the South African Open in Johannesburg, ending a two-year-long trophy drought.

Grace started the back nine of the final round at Randpark Golf Club at 17 under par and level with fellow South African and defending champion Louis Oosthuizen.

His birdie run began at 11 and continued through 14 to hand Grace a final-round 62 and his first silverware since the 2017 Nedbank Golf Challenge.

Grace finished the European Tour tournament in 263 shots, 21 under par, with 2010 British Open champion Oosthuizen (68) three strokes adrift.

Marcus Armitage (69) finished third on 268 and fellow Englishman Jack Senior (67) and South African Jaco Ahlers (69) shared fourth position.

Apart from winning the South African Open, Grace took one of three 2020 British Open places up for grabs with the others going to Armitage and Ahlers.

The first person to greet Grace after he birdied the final hole was his one-year-son, followed by his wife, who celebrated her birthday on Sunday.

"It was a remarkable performance," said Grace after claiming his ninth European Tour title. "I played flawless golf today and my putter was red hot.

"This is a trophy I really wanted to get my hands on because it means so much for any South African to win on home soil. What an emotional day for the Grace family – I win the South African Open for the first time and my wife celebrates her birthday."

Oosthuizen, who let a three-stroke overnight lead slip, at least had the joy of scoring a hole in one at the eighth. His tee shot appeared to be heading right of the green, then hopped left off the fringe and rolled into the cup.

Armitage was equally thrilled after a birdie at the last hole – had he missed Senior would have taken the British Open slot instead.

Updated: January 12, 2020 08:01 PM

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