Not the winner the local fans envisioned at the start of the day, Chris Paisley was flawless en route to his maiden win at the BMW SA Open, writes WADE PRETORIUS at Glendower.
The South African national championship will once again head to England after Paisley held off favourite Branden Grace with a bogey-free 66 on Sunday.
Grace, who himself shot 68, was left to rue a double drop on the sixth after a fast start saw him briefly take the lead. The South African started like a man possessed and after an eagle on the second followed his birdie start.
You could be forgiven for thinking that it was done and dusted at that stage.
Paisley, of course, had other ideas. He saved par on the first, birdied the second and sank a lengthy birdie on the fourth to lay down a marker of his own.
It quickly became a two-horse race as the duo pulled clear of the field before Grace blinked first.
The eight-time European Tour winner and recent victor at the Nedbank Golf Challenge found the bunker on the short sixth and did not escape with his first shot. He would compound his mistake with a two-putt to fall behind Paisley – a lead that he would not surrender.
Paisley flexed his muscles with a birdie on the 10th and when Grace found the water off the tee with a cautious layup drive, even the most ardent of local fans were starting to lose faith.
Grace made bogey to fall five behind, a margin too big for even him to make up. He would give it a go, however, as he tapped in an eagle on 13, birdied 15 and almost holed out from the bunker for eagle on 16 but the ever-consistent Paisley was unmoved.
He two putted for birdie on the 13th and matched Grace with a sand-save birdie on 15. Paisley then found greens and fairways in regulation on the way home for his breakthrough victory and a tournament total of -21, three better than Grace.
History for Grace will wait as he missed out on becoming the first player to win the Alfred Dunhill, the Nedbank Golf Challenge and the SA Open.
Photo: Getty Images
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