Paisley leads, Grace lurks at SA Open

Branden Grace came from five shots behind to trail leader Chris Paisley by just a single stroke in the third round of the SA Open on Saturday.

The South African shot a six-under 66 to total 14-under for the tournament ahead of the final round at Glendower Golf Club. That was one behind Paisley, who kept his nose in front with a 70.

Grace's front nine was not impressive by his lofty standards as he only managed to make a pair of birdies and an unwanted bogey on the ninth hole.

“I got frustrated out there to be quite honest,” he said of his front nine. “I thought I hit the ball superbly through 13 holes, but just couldn’t get it in the hole. I think the putting stroke was a little bit quick and I pushed and pulled a few.”

He got his groove back after the turn with a par on the 10th that was followed by a birdie. He made another par on 12 and followed that up with yet another birdie on 13. He went on to make further gains as he birdied 15, 16 and 17 in a flawless back nine.

“Zack told me the whole day, ‘You know, you’re hitting it well. Just stay patient and sooner or later it’s going to drop in,’,” Grace said. “I normally get on a little streak like that. When you make the one, you kind of feel that surge of adrenalin and you run with it a little bit. One thing led to another and there I was three or four birdies later.”

Despite the frustration he felt through those holes on the front, Grace was always positive about his chances of a good finish.

“Through 13 holes, I think I was five or six behind. I told myself to stay positive,” he said, “I was four or five behind going into the last day at the Nedbank, so I thought if I could get the margin pretty small, I could still have a chance. Now I’ve played myself right back into it and I’m really excited going into tomorrow.”

Paisley, on the other hand, had a quiet and steady afternoon in which he made a single bogey and three birdies to get to 15-under. Tied with France’s Adrien Saddier at the top before the start of the round, the Englishman was not going to put any sort of pressure on himself in round three.

“Yeah, obviously being tied for the lead isn’t a position I’ve been in a lot,” Paisley said. “I’m really proud with how I’ve played, I felt really calm and never really felt stressed. I drove the ball really well and I felt like I actually played better than yesterday – just didn’t really hole the putts.”

In a share of third lie Jacques Blaauw, Chase Koepka and Saddier who are all 12-under while Darren Fichardt’s eight-under 64 catapulted him to 11-under and into sixth position. The trio of Denmark’s Jeff Winther, Trevor Fisher Jnr and Jacques Kruyswijk are all on 10-under-par.