Grace, Finch fight for lead

2012-01-14 19:06

Johannesburg - Once the tempestuous Joburg Open weather had blown through to finally allow a full day of golf on Saturday, it had taken with it the hopes of Charl Schwartzel, but left behind it a silver lining for another young South African in Branden Grace.

Scoreboard from the Joburg Open

Grace had just made his third consecutive birdie of the third round on the East Course at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington to share the lead with England’s Richard Finch when play was suspended in the fading light.

Despite the best of efforts to finish off the second round on Saturday morning and then complete the third round as well, the leaders will have to return on Sunday morning to complete their rounds before the start of the final round.

Grace and Finch share the lead on 15 under, with the South African at five under for his round with three to play, and the Englishman through 14 holes.

And a maiden European Tour title is also still a possibility for George Coetzee, who is one off the lead and with four holes to complete.

Dawie van der Walt did make it into the clubhouse on 12 under with a 67.

The second round was completed on Saturday morning, with Finch - thanks in part to a hole-in-one on the 12th - amongst three players tied for the lead on 11 under, including Coetzee and Robert Rock.

Grace was one stroke back alongside Jbe Kruger and Retief Goosen. Goosen later fell off the pace with back-to-back bogeys early on the back nine in the third round.

Schwartzel, hunting a historic hat-trick of titles, had missed the cut by a single stroke on three under. He was in good company, with former Joburg Open champions Ariel Canete and Richard Sterne also missing the cut.

But for Grace, the pleasure of contending once again is more than making up for the weather.

And it brings him another step closer to a maiden European Tour title, which the young star believes is very possible.

“I think I’m close at the moment,” he said earlier in the week. “I’ve grown as a player. I’m more likely to give myself chances and put myself in contention on the weekends.”