A South African Open moment of pure Grace

Last November, Branden Grace sat in an airport in America and outlined clearly his goals for 2020. At Randpark Golf Club on Sunday, Grace achieved the first of those goals when he won the South African Open hosted by the City of Joburg.

Grace produced one of the finest putting displays of his career to close with a 62 and win his national Open by three shots on 21 under par, and following a stunning duel with defending champion Louis Oosthuizen on Randpark’s Firethorn course.

Oosthuizen took second place on 18 under par with a 68 that included a hole-in-one on the par-three eighth hole. England’s Marcus Armitage finished third on 16 under with a 69. Talented 18-year-old Jayden Schaper won the Freddie Tait Cup for finishing as the leading amateur in an incredible sixth place overall on 13 under par with a closing 70.

“I’ve now won everything I want to win in South African golf, and it feels so good,” said a delighted Grace.

“This was the one that was missing – the second oldest tournament in the world and with so much history.”

Grace’s victory also secured him a place in The Open at Royal St George’s later this year, with Armitage and Jaco Ahlers taking the other two spots that were on offer from this championship to the leading players not yet exempt for the Major.

But most importantly, after a period of changes on so many fronts, Grace feels he’s back on track.

“You know, my dad had a heart-attack a year back, then we were building a house, I became a father, so there was a lot going on. But I’ve made some changes in management, I’ve got a new caddie and I feel in a really good place at the moment, and this was the place to kick it off.”

Grace was three shots off the lead of Oosthuizen going into the final round. But as Oosthuizen struggled to make anything happen and parred his first seven holes, Grace came out firing early on. After a bogey to start, Grace made three birdies and an eagle in the next five holes.

“I needed to come out hot. I knew I needed a low one. I saw the conditions were good for it and the golf course was set up for it. I also knew Louis doesn’t make mistakes out there, so I knew it would be tough. The bogey wasn’t great to start, but when I made birdie on three and eagle on four I knew I was right back in it. And then the blade was just hot. The hole just looked bigger and bigger from there on,” said Grace.

Then came a moment of magic from Oosthuizen. The defending champion aced the par-three eighth hole to take the lead on 17 under par. It didn’t last long though as Grace rolled in a huge birdie putt on the par-four ninth to tie Oosthuizen for the lead. Then he made four straight birdies from the 11th hole to surge away from the field and on to victory.

“It makes it special beating a player of Louis’s calibre. It was special for me to finish it off the way I did this year,” Grace said.

And Grace can cross off another goal this week. Sitting in that American airport, he also declared, “Maybe one week soon I’ll be able to lift my boy up at the end of a tournament I’ve won, and he’ll be proud of his dad”.

On the 18th green on Sunday, young Roger ran on to hug his dad – the South African Open champion.

 

Written by: Michael Vlismas

 

Final Scores:

263 – Branden Grace 64 70 67 62

266 – Louis Oosthuizen 65 69 64 68

268 – Marcus Armitage 65 72 62 69

269 – Jack Senior 67 66 69 67, Jaco Ahlers 66 66 68 69

271 – Hennie du Plessis 67 67 69 68, George Coetzee 65 69 68 69, JC Ritchie 63 72 67 69, Jayden Schaper 65 67 69 70, Andy Sullivan 66 68 67 70, Martin Rohwer 66 71 64 70

272 – Harry Hall 65 68 71 68

273 – Maverick Antcliff 67 67 72 67, Johannes Veerman 62 71 72 68

274 – Gavin Green 68 67 71 68, Lorenzo Scalise 68 69 69 68, Tapio Pulkkanen 65 66 72 71, Keith Horne 69 65 69 71, Nino Bertasio 63 71 69 71, Min Woo Lee 66 69 67 72, Jacques Blaauw 69 65 67 73

275 – Jean Hugo 70 68 70 67, Erik van Rooyen 70 68 70 67, Garth Mulroy 71 65 71 68, Trevor Fisher Jnr 65 67 73 70, Richard Bland 70 67 67 71, Connor Syme 66 68 69 72

276 – Jaco Van Zyl 70 68 73 65, Thomas Detry 68 68 74 66, Clement Sordet 71 67 69 69, Oliver Farr 68 68 69 71, Luke Jerling 67 70 68 71, CJ du Plessis 66 69 69 72, Juran Dreyer 69 68 67 72, Peter Karmis 64 70 69 73

277 – Casey Jarvis 68 70 72 67, Rhys Enoch 69 67 73 68, Hennie Otto 66 71 72 68, Jeff Winther 65 71 72 69, Shaun Norris 68 69 70 70, Mark Williams 67 67 71 72, Matthew Baldwin 65 70 70 72, Steve Surry 69 67 68 73, Thriston Lawrence 67 65 70 75

278 – Joachim B. Hansen 70 68 71 69, Dave Coupland 71 67 71 69, Haydn Porteous 70 66 72 70, Marc Warren 70 68 65 75

279 – Julien Guerrier 68 68 72 71, Marcel Siem 66 69 72 72

280 – Philip Geerts 66 70 75 69, Gregory Bourdy 70 67 71 72, Antoine Rozner 66 71 71 72, Sami Valimaki 67 70 71 72, James Hart du Preez 71 65 71 73, Chase Hanna 70 68 69 73

281 – Deon Germishuys 70 68 71 72, Chris Paisley 68 68 72 73, Rikard Karlberg 70 67 71 73, Gavin Moynihan 68 69 71 73, Jonathan Caldwell 70 68 70 73

282 – Sam Horsfield 64 68 75 75, Jarryd Felton 67 71 68 76

283 – Matias Calderon 64 72 72 75, Hurly Long 70 66 70 77

284 – Jacques Kruyswijk 66 72 74 72, Wynand Dingle 68 67 74 75, Brett Rumford 69 67 70 78

285 – Estiaan Conradie 72 66 75 72, David Micheluzzi 65 72 71 77

286 – Rourke van der Spuy 64 74 73 75, Philip Eriksson 70 68 72 76

287 – Ruan de Smidt 66 72 74 75, Ross McGowan 69 68 72 78

289 – Daniel Greene 67 66 78 78

292 – Christo Lamprecht 70 68 77 77