Grace keeps cool to land title as McGrane fades
Published 16/01/2012 | 05:00
South Africa's Branden Grace carded a level-par 72 in his final round to win the Joburg Open yesterday and deny Jamie Elson what would have been a remarkable triumph.
Englishman Elson finished with a stunning nine-under-par 63, which gave him the clubhouse lead for much of the afternoon.
But his wait for a mistake from Grace proved in vain as the local player calmly parred his way to victory on Royal Johannesburg and Kensington's East Course.
Grace, the joint overnight leader following a rain-shortened third day, finished the tournament on 17-under, a shot clear of Elson and three in front of a group of six players on 14-under.
They were Scottish duo David Drysdale and Marc Warren, and South Africans Jaco van Zyl, Trevor Fisher Jnr, Dawie van der Walt and Michiel Bothma.
Damien McGrane, meanwhile, imploded after a bright start. McGrane finished five-under for the tournament -- 12 shots behind the winner -- despite an opening-round 63.
The 40-year-old carded a 71 in the second round before blowing any chance of competing for top honours when he slumped to a third-round 76, although he did steady the ship somewhat, closing with a level-par 72.
Grace was tied for the lead on Saturday on 15-under with England's Richard Finch when the day's play was suspended by heavy storms.
The 23-year-old from Pretoria birdied the final two holes of his third round yesterday to move to 17-under, building a three-shot lead over nearest challengers Finch and South African George Coetzee heading into the final round.
Grace was a picture of consistency in his fourth round, playing out 16 holes to par, dropping a shot on the second before downing a birdie on the ninth.
That proved enough for victory as Elson could only sit and watch from the clubhouse having done all he could to put himself in contention earlier on in the day.
Elson's brilliant round included six birdies on the opening nine holes to reach the turn in 31 and he added another birdie on the 16th before completing a magnificent day with an eagle three on the 18th.
That left 30-year-old Elson -- who shared the opening-day lead with McGrane after starting with an eight-under-par 63 -- on 16-under, but he had to settle for runner-up spot as Grace played out his final nine holes for par.