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South African Open report

Putting perfection guides Grace to ‘South Africa Slam’

Branden Grace has now won his home country's five biggest golf tournaments after a sublime putting display earned him the South African Open title
 

South African Open report: What happened at Randpark GC?

Branden Grace produced a putting masterclass as he closed out his ninth victory on tour with a final round of 62.

The South African trailed fellow countryman Louis Oosthuizen by three shots on Sunday morning but turned things around throughout the final round largely thanks to an incredible putting display.

A bogey at the second had him over-par for the day but from that point on he was almost flawless. A bounce-back birdie at the third followed by and eagle at the fourth saw the momentum swing in his favour as Oosthuizen made par after par.

Oosthuizen briefly regained the lead after eight holes when he made a hole-in-one at the par-3 but this was to be the highlight in an anti-climatic day for the defending champion.

Grace struggled at times with a pushed tee shot but was able to get out of trouble and back into position time and again with his putter keeping the tournament leaning in his favour.

Four consecutive birdies from 11 through 14 saw Grace open up a three-shot lead of his own and by this point pars on the remaining holes would be good enough for the win.

With the victory Grace has completed the South African set of the five biggest men’s events held in the country.

Grace’s South Africa Slam

  • Joburg Open (2012)
  • Volvo Golf Champions (2012)
  • Alfred Dunhill Championship (2014)
  • Nedbank Challenge (2017)
  • South African Open (2020)

While this was a two-horse race for the best part of the day, there were a few challengers further back who could have had a say in things with a big final round.

England’s Marcus Armitage was the most notable and came into Sunday one shot behind Oosthuizen. He played solidly on Sunday without really challenging for the lead but was involved in a fascinating battle for a spot in the Open Championship

There were three places on offer for Royal St George’s and these would go to the top three players inside the top 10 who were not already qualified.

Grace sealed the first with his win and Jaco Ahlers sealed the third due to being ahead of Jack Senior in the world rankings. But the real story came from Armitage who needed to birdie the final hole to grab his Open place and he did not disappoint.

A brilliant approach left a good look at birdie and upon rolling it in we saw exactly what it means for him to qualify.

South African Open report: What’s next for the European Tour?

Next up on the European Tour schedule is the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Shane Lowry will be looking to defend his Rolex Series title but players such as Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau will be hoping to contend.

Joe Hughes

Tour editor covering men's golf, women's golf and anything else that involves the word golf, really. The talk is far better than the game, but the work has begun to change that.

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