JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Home favorite Branden Grace carded a sensational nine-under-par 62 to lift the European Tour’s South African Open trophy with a three-shot victory on Sunday.
Grace mastered the Randpark Golf Club with eight birdies and an eagle, finishing on 21 under par for the tournament, ahead of defending champion and overnight leader Louis Oosthuizen (68).
Grace was well off the pace when he bogeyed the par-four second, but picked up 10 shots in his next 12 holes as he stormed to the top of the leaderboard and claimed his first home open championship title.
“That was remarkable, I’m lost for words,” Grace told reporters. “I can’t remember the last time the putter was that hot.
“This is the one I really wanted, my concentration was great and I played really well. It’s a good birthday wish to my missus (Nieke) today.”
It is a ninth European Tour title for the 32-year-old, who has also sealed a place at the 149th British Open at Royal St George’s in July, along with fellow qualifiers South African Jaco Ahlers (69) and Englishman Marcus Armitage.
Armitage came third after a final round of 69, his best ever finish on the tour, with Ahlers (69) and Jack Senior (67) from England tied for fourth.
Ahlers gets the third Open qualification spot as he has the higher world ranking.
Oosthuizen has qualified for the major championship after lifting the Claret Jug in 2010.
He struggled to get his round going as he battled on the greens, but holed a fourth career hole-in-one when his tee-shot on the par-three eighth landed two yards from the cup and rolled in.
Despite 16 birdies in his previous three rounds, Oosthuizen carded only one more as he tried to keep pace with his compatriot Grace at the top of the leaderboard.
(Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Ed Osmond)