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Grace and Chase set South African Open pace

59   //    11 Jan 2018, 22:03 IST
Branden Grace, joint-leader of the South African Open after the first round

Branden Grace holds a share of the lead with Chase Koepka after the first round of the South African Open on home soil.

Grace won the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City two months ago and could be celebrating again in his homeland this weekend after starting with a seven-under 65.

There were three eagles and as many birdies for the eight-time European Tour champion at Glendower Golf Club on Thursday, a couple of bogeys costing him the outright lead.

Eagles at the par-five second, eighth and 15th holes were the highlights of a promising start for Grace in the first European Tour event of the year after Koepka set the clubhouse target.

The 336-ranked American, brother of U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka, started with a bogey, but that was one of only two dropped shots in a hugely encouraging first round.

Koepka also eagled the second and hit the turn in 32 courtesy of three birdies, going on to pick up shots at four of the last seven holes.

Englishman Chris Paisley is just one shot off the lead, while South African duo Erik van Rooyen and Richard Sterne are a further stroke back along with Nacho Elvira and Bradley Neil.

Tournament host Ernie Els is one under, while defending champion Graeme Storm carded a disappointing three-over 75.


Jamie Donaldson is five shots off the pace, but a hole in one at the par-three 14th made it a day to remember for the Welshman.

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