; Amazing Grace breaks SA victory drought at Nedbank Challenge – The Citizen

Amazing Grace breaks SA victory drought at Nedbank Challenge

The man: Branden Grace.
 Photo: Gordon Arons/Gallo Images.

The man: Branden Grace. Photo: Gordon Arons/Gallo Images.

The 29-year-old delivers a supremely composed performance to become the first local to triumph at Sun City in a decade.

South Africa’s Branden Grace broke a decade-long SA victory drought in the Nedbank Challenge, with a stunning one-shot triumph at the Gary Player Country Club at Sun City on Sunday.

The 29-year-old fired a final round bogey-free six-under 66 to finish on 11-under, one ahead of Scotland’s Scott Jamieson and two ahead of Frenchman Victor Dubuisson.

With the win, Grace also collected a cheque for R17.9m. Incredible ball-striking was the key to his win, as Grace hit every green in regulation in the final round.

Grace was aiming to become the first SA winner of Africa’s Major in a decade since Trevor Immelman’s triumph in 2007 – and did so in fine style with a stellar finish to his round with a tournament-winning birdie on the 16th as he holed a monster putt of 40 feet.

It would prove the killer blow in a fourth round that turned out to be a three-horse race between the final three-ball of Jamieson, Dubuisson and Grace.

Starting out the day three shots behind the 54-hole lead held by Jamieson, Grace compiled his best opening nine of the week by some distance.

The now eight-time European Tour winner reeled off birdies on the par five second, and two more on the par four fifth and sixth holes.

Without any dropped shots to go out in three-under, Grace was one behind Dubuisson at the turn.

Another birdie followed for Grace on the par five 10th where he two-putted to pick up a stroke, but both his playing partners also carded fours to keep the local favourite out of the lead.

Grace then missed makeable birdie putts on both 12 and 13, but finally joined the lead on 10-under with a two-putt birdie on the par five 14th. Jamieson also made birdie to make it a three-way tie at the top as Dubuisson only managed a par.

On the par four 15th, Grace had a great chance to pull ahead with a 10-footer for birdie. Again, however, he could not convert as he pulled the putt. Dubuisson, however, made bogey to leave just Grace and Jamieson tied for the lead.

Just when it looked like the putter had gone completely cold on Grace, he sunk a 40-footer for birdie on the par three 16th to move to 11-under and one ahead at a crucial stage of the tournament.

Two pars followed for Grace, as he closed out the win in fine style.

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8 December 2018 THE VAAL

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