Saturday, December 13, 2014


Branden Grace saw his lead drastically reduced by the fast-finishing Lucas Bjerregaard, but the South African still holds the upper hand going into Sunday's final round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek Country Club.
The World Number 117, who won all four of his previous European Tour titles during a glorious 2012 campaign, had looked imperious in reaching 16 under par at the halfway stage with rounds of 62 and 66.
But the 26 year old had to battle hard for a third-round 72 to remain on that mark, with Dane Bjerregaard whittling his five-shot overnight advantage down to one with an excellent 66.
Last week’s winner Danny Willett lies third on 14 under after a round of 67, with Francesco Molinari – who for much of the day was Grace’s closest challenger – a shot further back in fourth following a round of 70.
Grace bogeyed the long second, but swiftly birdied the third from 25 feet and picked up another shot at the next.
Another dropped shot at the sixth was again swiftly wiped out as the South African holed from 15 feet at the next.
Grace’s approach to the 11th spun back off the green and led to a bogey, but a birdie from tap-in range at the 14th following a superb pitch kept him four ahead.
However, as Grace bogeyed the 17th after missing first the fairway and then the green, Bjerregaard was storming home with a hat-trick of birdies.
Grace did well to save par at the last after his third overshot the green and narrowly escaped the water, and afterwards admitted he was relieved to still be leading.
“A couple of the easy holes I managed to make mistakes on,” he said.
“But I’m in the position I want to be in and looking forward to tomorrow.
“If you look at the positives, I’m still in good form and I made a couple of nice putts on the front nine. I’m one ahead and I’m raring to go tomorrow.
“I’ve only had good experiences going into a final round and leading. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and taking in those positive vibes.”
The 23 year old Bjerregaard, who finished 34th on The Race to Dubai during an impressive rookie campaign last term, was only level par for the day at the turn.
However, after birdieing the tenth he holed an eight foot eagle putt at the 13th and birdied the 16th from ten feet, 17th from 15 feet, and took advantage of the long last.
Last week’s Nedbank Challenge winner Willett almost had a hole-in-one at the seventh, where he recorded one of three birdies on the way out, but suffered the setback of a double bogey at the ninth after his first tee shot finished in the hazard.
However, birdies at the 11th, 13th, 15th and 18th left him with a chance for consecutive wins.
“It was one bad swing [at the ninth] and I came back and played solidly on the back nine,” said Willett who was No. 84 in the world rankings just last week, but he moved up to No. 56 after capturing the Nedbank Golf Challenge. 
For the Sheffield man, a place in the 2015 Masters is at stake.
Willett is currently projected to move to No. 48 in the OWGR after a 67 in the third round, with no official events remaining in the calendar year after this week. 
The top 50 in the year-end rankings will each be exempt into the first major of 2015, which could potentially mark Willett's first trip to Augusta National.
Charl Schwartzel’s chances of completing a hat-trick of wins in this event appear over as he carded a third-round 76 to end the day 15 shots off the pace.
SCOTSWATCH: Scott Jamieson (68-70-72) and David Drysdale (71-68-71) are joint 13th on six-under-par 210. Craig Lee is back in T21 position with rounds of 68, 72 and 72 for 212. British amateur champion Bradley Neil from Blairgowrie is T64 on four-over 220 after scores of 73, 70 and 77.
Par 216 (3x72) Players from S Africa unless stated otherwise
200 Branden Grace 62 66 72
201 Lucas Bjerregaard (Denmark) 68 69 66
202 Danny Willett (England) 66 69 67
203 Francesco Molinari (Italy) 68 65 70
204 Andrew Johnston (England) 69 67 68
206 Louis Oosthuisen 69 69 69

210 Scott Jamieson 68 70 72, David Drysdale 71 68 71 (T13)
212 Craig Lee 68 72 72 (T21)
220 Bradley Neil (am) 73 70 77 (T64)





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