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Sunday 20 April 2014

Amazing Grace hits Tour record of 60 to take early control at Dunhill

Branden Grace hits an apporach shot to the ninth green on his way to shooting 60 Kingsbarns Links

South African Branden Grace equalled the European Tour record with a round of 60 at Kingsbarns in the first round of the Dunhill Links Championship.

Already with three European Tour titles to his name this season, the 24-year-old knocked two strokes off Lee Westwood's course record of 10-under-par thanks to an eagle and 10 birdies -- five of them in a row to finish with.

Fourteen players have now shot 60 on the circuit -- Darren Clarke has done it twice -- and like so many of the others, Grace came off saying: "It could have been a 59."

The Pretoria golfer leads Victor Dubuisson by two, the Frenchman's 62 at St Andrews also being a course record, while many of the big guns were left trailing in his wake after they battled with the far tougher Carnoustie.

The three Ryder Cup heroes in the field -- Paul Lawrie, Martin Kaymer and Peter Hanson -- returned 75, 70 and 72 respectively.

Padraig Harrington, who won the Claret Jug in 2007 after a play-off with Sergio Garcia, signed for a 71 on his return to Carnoustie, while current British Open champion Ernie Els took 73.

He stood on the 11th tee four-over-par, but birdied three of the next four holes and parred in.

Paul McGinley struggled to a 76 and is down near the rear of the 168-strong field.

The highlight of the Irishman's day was partnering Olympic and Paralympic runner Oscar Pistorius in the celebrity Pro-Am. "It was a real honour to be in his company," he said.

When Westwood had his 62 at Kingsbarns in 2003 it included an albatross two on the ninth, but Grace needed nothing as extraordinary as that.

His eagle came on the 565-yard 16th, his seventh, and took him to five-under, but it was on the outward half where he really went into overdrive.

Grace birdied all but the second and fourth and came to the 558-yard ninth needing an eagle for the 59, but pushed his second wide before pitching to a foot.

Amazingly, Dubuisson threatened to overshadow him when he reached 11-under with three to play.

Two more birdies and he would have had the elusive and magical 59, but the 22-year-old bogeyed the 371-yard seventh and parred the last two. He switches to Carnoustie today, while Grace is at St Andrews.

Dane Thorbjorn Olesen is in third place after a 63 at St Andrews, while the best scores at Carnoustie were the 67s of England's Oliver Wilson and France's Gregory Havret.

Dunhill Links Championship,

Live, Sky Sports 2, 1.30

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