Grace in the hunt at Sun City

Sunday Tribune - - SPORT &RACING - JAC­QUES VAN DER WESTHUYZEN

DE­SPITE mak­ing a bo­gey five at the par-four 18th hole yes­ter­day – his first for the week on the back nine – Bran­den Grace was still able to post a four-un­der-par 68 to be at five­un­der over­all and three shots off the lead go­ing into to­day’s fi­nal round of the 2017 Ned­bank Golf Chal­lenge here.

Un­til the 18th yes­ter­day af­ter­noon, the Fan­court-based player had owned the back nine at the Gary Player Coun­try Club, hav­ing made 10 birdies and an eagle since the tour­na­ment started on Thurs­day.

On the front nine he made four birdies, but also four bo­geys and three dou­ble bo­geys, some­thing he ad­mit­ted af­ter his round he would have to get right if he is to se­ri­ously chal­lenge for the ti­tle to­day.

Grace is three shots be­hind new leader, Scot­land’s Scott Jamieson, who was blem­ish-free in go­ing around in 67 shots yes­ter­day to be at eight-un­der 208 af­ter mak­ing five birdies, while overnight leader Vic­tor Dubuis­son is at seven-un­der, just one be­hind, af­ter a 71.

Af­ter go­ing out in 42 in Fri­day’s sec­ond round Grace said it was crucial to come back strongly yes­ter­day to give him­self a chance of vic­tory to­day: “I’m a grinder and Fri­day’s round was cer­tainly not the best, es­pe­cially that front nine. To­day was also not great on the front, so I was happy to be un­der par (one-un­der 35) at the turn. It was a grind again, but I’ve given my­self a chance and a lot can still hap­pen. Hope­fully I can pull off a Noren on Sun­day,” Grace joked about last year’s win­ner Alex Noren who turned around a six-shot deficit on the Sun­day to win by six.

“The key is to get a good start, get that front nine un­der con­trol, like I did to­day, and then push on the back. I’m very ex­cited to be in this po­si­tion ... hope­fully it’s third time lucky for me.”

Jamieson, who opened with a 68 and made a solid 73 in tough con­di­tions on Fri­day, was one of only a hand­ful of play­ers to not drop a shot to par yes­ter­day. He made five birdies in an­other steady round of golf which has left him in pole po­si­tion to win ‘Africa’s Ma­jor’ to­day.

“I’ll take that for sure,” said the 33-year-old whose only win on the Euro­pean Tour came in 2013 at the now de­funct Nel­son Man­dela Cham­pi­onship at Royal Dur­ban.

“I need a good fin­ish here to get into Dubai (this com­ing week) so that’s at the back of my mind, but I first want to win the tour­na­ment; the rest will then take care of it­self.

“It’s great to be in this po­si­tion and the key will be to stay calm be­tween the ears, to not panic, even if I hit a bad shot. I’ve won from be­ing six be­hind and lost from be­ing five in front so I’ve got some ex­pe­ri­ence be­hind me.”

Con­di­tions yes­ter­day were near per­fect af­ter the strong winds of Fri­day and the scor­ing, too, was much bet­ter. South Africa’s Haydn Por­te­ous posted a five-un­der 67 to be at three-un­der, while Race to Dubai leader Tommy Fleet­wood hit back af­ter a dif­fi­cult first two days to also post a 67. He’s at two-un­der and tied for sev­enth.

PIC­TURE: EPA

PUT­TING FOR DOUGH: Bran­den Grace dur­ing yes­ter­day’s third round of the Ned­bank Golf Chal­lenge at Sun City.

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