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Paisley defies odds to beat local boy Grace and win SA Open

15 January, 2018, 00:36 | Author: Kristen Ingram
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The 29-year-old eight-time victor on the circuit won the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City two months ago, his last appearance on the Tour.

He also made two bogeys on an eventful front nine, but three birdies to go with his three eagles saw him match the morning round of Chase Koepka of the United States, brother of the US Open champion Brooks.

They lead by one stroke from Chris Paisley of England after a day that brought relief to officials as predicted seasonal electrical storms did not arrive.

Five-time European Tour victor Darren Fichardt of South Africa is alone in sixth on 205 after a 64, the lowest score of the day, and bettered only by Saddier this week.

Compatriot Ernie Els fired a 71, Canadian Mike Weir a 73 and Trevor Immelman of South Africa a 79 over the par-72, 6,942-metre/7,594-yard track.

Compatriot Graeme Storm won the tournament past year after a play-off with superstar Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, but failed by one shot to make the halfway cut Friday.

Grace, a South African, had a haywire front nine that included two eagles, two birdies and two bogeys.

On the back nine, Paisley remained focused, making three more birdies for a closing 66 for a 21-under 267. "I'm just really excited about it". "I think I played flawless, except for the second shot on the first hole", he said.

"It's a great start to 2018", said Grace. He made another par on 12 and followed that up with yet another birdie on 13. The only one I was really aggressive with was the second hole. "Going head-to-head against Branden, in his home country with pretty much everyone in the crowd on his side was tough, but I just played great".

Paisley, the clubhouse leader for much of an opening round played in warm, partly cloudy conditions, birdied seven holes and bogeyed one.

English duo Andy Sullivan and Matt Wallace carded three-under 69s to move to five under for the championship while former Ryder Cup victor Jamie Donaldson, who carded the first ace of 2018, is a further two shots back after a one-under 71 which saw the Welshman mix five birdies with four bogeys.

South African Retief Goosen, one of the former Major winners, was seven under for the day as he teed off on 18, only to suffer a double-bogey six that left him five strokes off the pace. Turning in three under for the round, the local claimed five birdies within six holes during the inward half to leap into contention for first prize.

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