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

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Grace won the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City in November, and surged into contention at the South African Open with a third-round 66, with seven birdies and just one bogey to go to 14 under.

Among four contenders lying one shot further back were the first round leaders, Branden Grace of South Africa and Chase Koepka of the United States. "It was a little negative that I had to play it from where it ended up".

The pair had a one-stroke edge over Chris Paisley of England and two over Bradley Neil of Scotland, South Africa's Erik van Rooyen and Richard Sterne, and Spain's Nacho Elvira.

The three-time Major victor even managed to make the quadruple bogey without taking a penalty stroke as he hacked his way up the left-side of the 454-yard par 4 before eventually signing for an eight which left him on level par for the tournament before a bounce-back birdie at the last and an eventful round of one-under, 69. But this is a golf course that I've traditionally done pretty well on, and a place that I really love. "You never know how it's going to go, even though I've been playing well in practice". He made another par on 12 and followed that up with yet another birdie on 13. I made eagle on the second hole and kind of kept it going from there."Tournament host Ernie Els carded an opening 71, while Retief Goosen was on three-under 69, together with Charl Schwartzel who had a frustrating day with three bogeys in his round.Grace was installed as the bookmakers' favourite ahead of the tournament, and if he plays like this when he's rusty, he's going to be hard to catch". He bogeyed the par-5 13 hole, but made amends with four birdies in his next five holes. I told myself to stay positive.

Darren Fichardt, another home favourite, made the move of the day in ideal scoring conditions with an eight-under 64 - the best round of the day - to lie four shots off the lead and three ahead of Masters victor Charl Schwartzel, who hit a three-under 69.

"At the moment it's weird, I feel like I didn't play wonderful".

"I've been in this situation a couple of times and I can't say I've dealt with it too well". You've just to keep the bad thoughts out of your head and the 66 today was the result of a year of hard work.

Five shots back and also still very much in the hunt if they can get something going on Sunday are Denmark's Jeff Winther, and the South African duo of Trevor Fisher Jnr and Jacques Kruyswijk.

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