Grace led by three after his magnificent 62 on the first day and, even though he was not quite as sharp on Friday, he finished his round six ahead of fellow South African Tjaart van der Walt, whose back-to-back 67s took him to 10-under.
“I’m very chuffed, it was a very good round. It’s always hard after a round like yesterday [Thursday], but I didn’t go out and try and protect my lead, I was out the blocks quickly with birdies on 11 and 13 and I just kept the ball rolling very well,” Grace said after his round, which he began on the 10th hole.
With Nedbank Golf Challenge champion Danny Willett ‘only’ shooting a 69 to go to nine-under-par, Jake Roos struggling through his first five holes level par and Matt Ford two-over-par through five, Grace’s nearest challengers were slipping backwards. The 26-year-old could be forgiven for already breaking out the kegs in celebration and he is confident that he can get the job done and claim his fifth European Tour record and his first since 2012 in the Alfred Dunhill Links at St Andrew’s.
“I have a good history when I’m leading, at the Alfred Dunhill I was quite a few ahead after two days, so I’ve done it before. I’m just going to stick to what I’m doing and stay patient. On this course, a 10-under could happen again and guys will come at you,” Grace said.
Willett’s tee-shot at the par-three seventh was swallowed by the water to the right of the green, leading to a double-bogey, while another dropped-shot on the par-four 14th also hampered his efforts to eat into Grace’s lead.
Van der Walt, the Texas-based 40-year-old, started on the 10th and picked up four birdies going out, before birdies on the par-four third and eighth holes brought him to within five shots of the leader. But he bogeyed the par-four ninth hole to take some of the gloss off his round.
South African Shaun Norris was another to make a big move up the leaderboard with his 67, which included an eagle on the 18th, taking him to nine-under for the tournament and in a tie for third place with Willett and Lucas Bjerregaard, the Dane who also shot 67.
Charl Schwartzel, the defending champion, slid down off the green into the water on the par-three fifth, the double-bogey he recorded there being the only dropped shots of his round as he posted a 70 that left him on five-under-par, 11 off the pace.