+27 (0)11 215 8600 info@randpark.co.za

Johannesburg – England’s Chris Paisley found it difficult to believe he had played that well after he carded a flawless final-round six-under-par 66 to take the South African Open Championship at Glendower Golf Club.

His three-stroke victory over South African fan favourite Branden Grace broke local fans’ hearts, but it was a display that showed he was a worthy champion as the hometown charge ended up falling short of his brilliant efforts which netted him his first professional title.

“I didn’t think I was capable of playing that well in that scenario,” said Paisley. “Just to go out and play that solid is amazing.”

It looked likely that Grace was going to run away with the title after Paisley found his overnight one-shot lead erased as the South African started birdie-eagle to hit the front.

Paisley, who had his wife Keri on his bag, had made birdie on two in a solid start, and found himself trailing.

“I actually just looked over at Keri and just kind of laughed,” he said. “I started par-birdie which I was really happy with but he went birdie-eagle so, I mean there’s obviously a long way to go after that – still 16 holes – so I knew I just had to keep plugging away and hope for the best.”

The best was good enough for five more birdies on his way to his win, while Grace made double-bogey five on the sixth and bogey on 12 to relinquish whatever edge he might have had over Paisley as Grace’s frustration at not being able to sink any meaningful putts grew.

As the end drew nearer, Paisley also had to deal with a crowd that was increasingly vocal in its desire to see a South African champion crowned.

“I actually enjoyed it,” he said. “They were obviously a lot louder for his good shots but that’s obviously understandable. I loved it. And as it became clear to them that I was going to win, they became very supportive, and I really appreciated it. And the reception they gave me as I walked up the 18th is something that I want to experience every time I play.”

After Grace made bogey on 12, he threw the kitchen sink at Paisley in an attempt to catch him. He made eagle on 13, and consecutive birdies in 15 and 16. But birdies of his own on the homeward par-fives, the  13th and 15th, saw Paisley safely home.

“He was flawless from the start to the end,” said Grace. “He was really great under the pressure. Every time I threw something at him, he responded, so it was good. It’s not the result I wanted but I will take the second on my first week back.”

Behind Grace, Zimbabwe Open champion JC Ritchie carded a superb seven-under 65 to charge into third place, while Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent and the South African duo of Jacques Kruyswijk and Jacques Blaauw shared fourth spot.

Credit:  Sport 24

Scores:

267 – Chris Paisley 66 65 70 66

270 – Branden Grace 65 71 66 68

272 – JC Ritchie 72 70 65 65

274 – Scott Vincent 70 66 71 67, Jacques Kruyswijk 68 67 71 68, Jacques Blaauw 68 70 66 70

275 – Renato Paratore 71 67 69 68, Darren Fichardt 70 71 64 70, Adrien Saddier 68 63 73 71, Chase Koepka 65 71 68 71

276 – Charlie Ford 71 72 67 66

277 – Hennie Otto 71 72 70 64, Marcus Kinhult 70 72 66 69, Jorge Campillo 70 70 67 70

278 – Neil Schietekat 70 72 69 67, Ryan Evans 74 67 68 69, Charl Schwartzel 69 70 69 70, Kyle McClatchie 68 71 68 71, Trevor Fisher Jnr 69 70 67 72

279 – Anthony Michael 71 71 69 68, Mark Williams 72 70 69 68, Erik van Rooyen 67 72 71 69, Richard Sterne 67 74 69 69, Shaun Norris 71 70 69 69, Ockie Strydom 75 67 68 69, Retief Goosen 69 67 73 70, Nacho Elvira 67 70 72 70, Adilson Da Silva 69 73 67 70, Dylan Frittelli 70 71 67 71, Jeff Winther 68 72 66 73

280 – Ernie Els 71 70 70 69, Soomin Lee 70 68 72 70, Richard Bland 69 72 66 73

281 – Daniel van Tonder 70 70 73 68, Jamie Donaldson 70 72 71 68, Andy Sullivan 70 72 69 70, Matthieu Pavon 72 67 68 74

282 – Jens Dantorp 72 72 72 66, Oliver Fisher 69 72 71 70, Justin Walters 69 69 73 71, Tyrone Ferreira 68 74 69 71, Matt Wallace 68 74 69 71

283 – Keenan Davidse 76 68 71 68, Vaughn Groenewald 69 72 71 71, Pedro Oriol 71 71 69 72, Louis de Jager 74 69 67 73

284 – Jean Hugo 73 70 72 69, David Drysdale 72 72 70 70, Justin Harding 75 67 68 74, Rourke van der Spuy 69 71 69 75

285 – Musiwalo Nethunzwi 72 71 72 70, Jbe’ Kruger 74 70 70 71, Bradley Neil 67 77 69 72

286 – George Coetzee 72 71 77 66, Marc Warren 73 69 74 70, Dean Burmester 77 67 72 70, Ruan de Smidt 72 69 74 71, Ulrich van den Berg 68 75 72 71, Rhys West 72 66 75 73, Breyten Meyer 70 71 72 73, James Kingston 73 68 72 73, Gregory Bourdy 75 69 67 75

287 – Garrick Higgo 68 73 76 70, Christiaan Bezuidenhout 69 72 74 72

288 – MJ Viljoen 70 73 73 72, Zack Byrd 69 71 74 74

289 – Marcus Armitage 72 69 76 72, Toto Thimba 73 70 72 74

290 – Austin Connelly 70 73 76 71, Matt Saulez 69 70 76 75