Friday, December 12, 2014




Branden Grace, chasing a fifth European Tour victory, raced into a five-stroke lead on 16-under-par 128 at the halfway stage of the Alfred Dunhill Championship today
The 26-year-old South African won four times during a memorable 2012 campaign, and remained on course for another victory as he added a second-round 66 to his sparkling opening 62 at Leopard Creek Country Club.

Three clear overnight, Grace turned in 33 after starting on the back nine before picking up another shot at the first.

His only dropped shot of the day came at the short fifth, but Grace birdied the sixth and finished with a lengthy putt for a closing gain on the ninth that put him five shots ahead of Italy’s Francesco Molinari (68-65 for 133)

“This is a golf course that suits me and if I keep hitting everything in play the way I have been the first two days then it should be a good weekend,” said Grace.

“The pins have been kind so far; I’m sure there’s going to be a couple of tricky and sticky pins out there on the weekend, but I’ll just stick to the game plan and see what the next two rounds offer us.

“Today was great – the ball-striking wasn’t as good as yesterday.

“I kept it going - there was a little bit of a slip there due to a lack of concentration but it happens.

“I’ve been hitting it well and kept on hitting good putts out there.”

Molinari was typically precise with his irons as he followed five birdies in 12 holes with an eagle at the long 13th.

The former Ryder Cup star then missed a golden birdie chance at the 14th and dropped his first shot of the day at the 17th, but two-putted the long last to get back to seven under for the day.

“I played really well today,” said Molinari. “I holed some really good putts – the last four or five holes could have been better, but seven under is always a good round.
“Branden has set a low target for everyone, so it was good to get some birdies.”

Tjaart van der Walt, twice a runner-up on The European Tour, had five birdies before three-putting the ninth – his last – for his only bogey in a round of 67 which left him third on ten under par 134

Another South African, Shaun Norris, last week’s Nedbank Challenge winner Danny Willett and Dane Lucas Bjerregaard – who chipped in at the last for eagle – were tied for fourth on nine under 135

Defending champion Charl Schwartzel, looking to become only the sixth player in European Tour history to win the same event three years running, carded a two under 70 to be 11 shots adrift of leader Grace.

SCOTSWATCH:  Scott Jamieson is T15 on 138 with rounds of 68 and 70, the same total, incidentally, as former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen. David Drysdale is T22 with 71 and 68 for 139. Craig Lee is on 140 (T31) with rounds of 68 and 72.
British amateur champion Bradley Neil made the cut - a great performance for a teenage amateur in a European Tour event. The Blairgowrie boy is T63 on one-under-par 143 - the limit mark - with scores of 73 and 70.

Par 144 (2x72) Players from South Africa unless stated
128 Branden Grace 62 66
133 Francesco Molinari (Italy) 68 65
134 Tjaart Van Der Walt 67 67
135 Shaun Norris 68 67, Lucas Bjerregaard (Denmark) 68 67, Danny Willett (England) 66 69

138 Scott Jamieson (Scotland) 68 70, Louis Ooshuizen 69 69 (T15)
139 David Drysdale (Scotland) 71 68 (T22)
140 Craig Lee (Scotland) 68 72 (T31)
143 Bradley Neil (Scotland) (amateur) 73 70

MISSED THE CUT (143 and better qualified)
152 Doug McGuigan (Scotland) 78 74



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