Branden Grace claims first home title at the South African Open

Carrie Guzman
January 15, 2020

He came into Sunday three shots back, and after an early bogey at the 2nd, it looked like his chances of silverware at the South African Open had gone away.

"That was remarkable", Grace said in quotes reported by the European Tour website. "I played flawless golf today and my putter was red hot. 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".

This victory is his ninth on the European Tour, and his first in over two years, after winning the Nedbank Golf Challenge, also on home soil, in November 2017.

Oosthuizen could become the first player to successfully defend this title since his South African compatriot Trevor Immelman 16 years ago.

Oosthuizen is one shot ahead of Englishman Marcus Armitage, who carded a superb nine under-par 62 on Saturday to storm up the leaderboard and go into the final day on Sunday alone in second.

Oosthuizen seemed boring as he made his way home for a 68 that could have been several better shots if he had not put on such a cold putter, and he will be allowed to reflect on what he could have been despite firmly defending his title.

"It's the first win with the little one here so he's going to have a photo with the trophy and then it's a good birthday wish to my Mrs. today, she's a birthday girl today so it's a good birthday present".

Not only was it an incredible way to win his national Open, it was also the same score (62) that Grace shot in the British Open in 2017 at Royal Birkdale - the lowest score ever recorded in a Major.

The 31-year-old pocketed a cool €175 296 (R2.7m) for his efforts.

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Oosthuizen qualifies automatically as the 2010 champion and Ahlers pipped Senior because of a higher world ranking.

Despite seven straight pars to open his round, Oosthuizen had lost the lead.

His tee shot appeared to be heading right of the green, then hopped left off the fringe and rolled into the cup.

Grace responded with a 25-foot birdie on the ninth and he edged back in front on his own after a stunning recovery from the rough on the 11th.

Grace had to fend off a determined Louis Oosthuizen in the final round.

He sandwiched a birdie from 12 feet on the 13th with a birdie four at the 12th and a three at the 14th to open up a three-shot lead to complete his South African Slam.

Jaco Ahlers is on a drifting shot from Armitage after making six birdies and three bogeys in the round of 16.

But the Fleetwood GC member missed out on a spot at The 148 Open by virtue of being spots lower on the Official World Golf Rankings.

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