Perfect Paisley claims maiden European Tour victory at SA Open


Retief Goosen, a two-time US Open victor, faltered at the last on Friday with a double-bogey six and lost further ground on the field with a one-over 73 to finish at seven under heading into the final round, while Ernie Els carded a two-under 70 to sit 10 shots off the lead at five under.

In third place on his own was local player JC Ritchie who was in scintillating form over the weekend.

Three strokes off the lead after the first round, he completed the front nine with a birdie-eagle-birdie burst after also birdieing the second.

But after turning in one-under for his round, Grace finally found his putting touch and came home with five birdies for a 66 and a tournament total of 14-under.

"The finish was awesome", said the Frenchman after wrapping up birdie-eagle-birdie.

Paisley, whose best finish in a European Tour event is third, only dropped one shot in his round.

"I can not wait for the weekend", said the Englishman.

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"My regular caddie is getting some stick but I just can't say enough about how good of a job she has done this week and just in life in general".

"At the moment it is weird - I feel like I did not play fantastic golf. I'm excited for the weekend but there's still 36 holes to play and we try to stay focused on the last two rounds". "I certainly hope that I can keep that trend (of Englishmen winning the SA Open) going".

The odd man out in the last five years is Brandon Stone, who won in 2016, with the "foreign" wins coming from Graeme Storm (England, 2017), Andy Sullivan (England, 2015), Denmark's Morton Orum Madsen the year before that and Sweden's Henrik Stenson the year before that.

And did you know that this tournament is the second oldest Open championship in the world, having first been formally played in 1903?

Nearest challenger Kruyswijk, 25, another young golfer eyeing a first European Tour triumph, carded a 67 following a mixed round.

Koepka, the brother of PGA Tour campaigner and US Open champion Brooks Koepka, was delighted with his round after he opened with a bogey.

South Africa's Darren Fichardt is a shot further back after surging through the field with a brilliant 64 which featured eight birdies in the last 12 holes. Of the three former Major winners who survived the even-par cut Friday, Charl Schwartzel of South Africa is best placed on 208 after a 69.