Branden Grace shot a stunning final round 62 to win the South African Open for the first time.
The 31-year-old South African leapfrogged defending champion and third round leader Louis Oosthuizen to clinch his ninth European Tour victory by three shots with a 23-under par total at Johannesburg’s Randpark Golf Course.
Oosthuizen closed with a 68, including an ace at the eighth hole, but was powerless to prevent himself being overhauled by Grace, whose closing nine-under par round included eight birdies and an eagle, marred only by a bogey at the second hole.
Victory also secured Grace a place in The Open Championship at Royal St George’s, with Marcus Armitage and Jaco Ahlers taking the remaining two spots on offer as the highest-placed finishers not previously qualified for the final major of the 2020 season.
Grace is no stranger to shooting 62, as he became the first man to record a sub-63 round during his 10-under par round at The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale in 2017.
Grace said: ““This is the one I wanted. I’ve won the Dunhill, the Nedbank, the Joburg Open and Dimension Data Pro-Am – and this is the one I really wanted to get my hands on. It being the second oldest event in the world means a lot and it also means so much to win it in South Africa in front of the home fans. I played flawless golf today and I can’t remember the last time the putter was that hot. This win kick starts it all, what an exciting year it is going to be.”
He added: “It’s a big bonus to go back and play in The Open. I was a little bit annoyed at the end of last year knowing then that I hadn’t secured my spot, but after this week knowing that I’ve done it, it’s a great highlight and something great to look forward to. I played in my first Amateur Championship at Royal St George’s. It didn’t treat me too well, but it’s a great golf course. It’s a ball striker’s course, and of all the majors we play, it’s the one that suits me the most with the type of golf I play having grown up in the conditions and hitting it low. I’ve been close, so if I can just put the head down and grind and maybe get a week like this, I’ll be right up there.”
Brandon Grace’s winning gear
Driver: Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic (9°)
Fairway Woods: Callaway Epic Flash (15°)
Irons: Callaway Apex Pro 19 Irons (4-PW)
Wedges: Callaway Jaws MD5 (52°, 56°, 60°)
Putter: Odyssey Toulon Atlanta Stroke Lab
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x