Branden Grace began the first round of the BMW SA Open as the favourite, both with the bookies and the fans, and did not disappoint, writes WADE PRETORIUS at Glendower.
Starting well after Chase Koepka had laid down the early marker of seven under par 65, the world’s 30th ranked player started par-eagle-birdie to race to three under.
That start got the gallery excited but they were silenced somewhat with dropped shots at four and six.
Searching for his first win at this event, the 29-year-old birdied the seventh before his second eagle of the day – courtesy of a 25 foot putt – at eighth got the crowd’s excitement levels charging once more.
A wonderful wedge into the 10th saw him move to -5 and take control of the marquee group featuring Charl Schwartzel and Chris Wood.
That’s where Grace’s scoring slowed as Schwartzel matched his countryman’s 3 on the 10th and made three more in a row.
Still two back of Koepka, Grace failed to convert a good chance on the short par 3 14th but his putter worked a charm on the next as he rolled in a testing 20-foot putt for eagle – his third – which helped him join Koepka at the top of the pile.
A wayward drive on 18 did not dampen his day as Grace finished with a par which was met by a roar of approval from the large gallery that had followed him throughout the day.
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