Grace soars to joint top of SA Open leaderboard with eagle rush

Branden Grace in action

Branden Grace in action

But the 31-year-old Englishman's three-stroke win over Branden Grace at the BMW South African Open was made all the more memorable thanks to the person he had on his bag during the week at Glendowner Golf Club: his wife, Keri.

A further shot back, at eight-under, is a big group including Zimbabwe's Scott Vincent, veteran South African Retief Goosen and joint leaders after the first round, local man Brandan Grace and the USA's Chase Koepka.

The 29-year-old had started his round with a birdie and an eagle to briefly lead, and a four-under 68 completed a decent weekend. "Obviously, I have never been in this position before, so tomorrow, I'm just going to go and play and do my best".

After another birdie at 13, the Frenchman claimed three in a row from 15 to record the lowest score this week in the first European Tour event of the year.

Saddier matched the course record with seven birdies and an eagle. "Having the record is quite cool".

The pair were one shot ahead of England's Chris Paisley, who had seven birdies and a bogey in his round of 66. "She doesn't know that much about golf, but she knows me really well and she knows when I'm going a little quicker than I usually do or getting a bit tight", Chris said. "I'm just really excited about it". "I played out of my skin".

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With two rounds left, Paisley is hoping the trend of English champions in this championship works in his favour as well.

The Englishman didn't let Grace's fast start get to him and he produced a stunning, blemish-free round of golf, going round the course in six-under-par 66, following in the footsteps of countrymen Graeme Storm (2017) and Andy Sullivan (2015) to have won the SA Open title in recent years.

Young South African Jacques Kruyswijk is their nearest challenger on nine under par after a 67 and in what is his rookie season on the European Tour. Still, Paisley didn't press, making a birdie of his own on the second hole and then two more through the front nine to grab back the lead when Grace double-bogeyed the par-3 sixth.

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

But ex-US Masters champions Mike Weir (146) of Canada and Trevor Immelman (149) of South Africa bowed out after the second round.

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