Grace clinches maiden European Tour title

South Africa’s Branden Grace clinched his first European Tour

title with a level-par 72 on Sunday for a one-shot win at the

Joburg Open.

Grace had one bogey and a birdie on the East Course at Royal

Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club to finish with a 17-under

total of 270 to edge out Englishman Jamie Elson.

The 23-year-old Grace saw his three-shot overnight lead cut to

one as Elson made a 30-foot putt for eagle on No. 18 to finish with

a blistering 9-under 63 and set the clubhouse target at 271.

Elson had seven birdies along with his eagle, including six in

his first eight holes.

But Grace, one of 27 players to complete his third round in the

morning, held on with nine straight pars coming home for the

$260,000 winner’s share at the second event on the 2012 Race to

Dubai. It was his second professional win after a 2010 victory on

South Africa’s Sunshine Tour.

”It was pretty tough out there today,” Grace said. ”I played

really nicely, I hit the ball superb I think, and the putter was

just cold. I couldn’t get the speed of the greens going today.

Fortunately at the end of the day it was enough.”

Scottish pair David Drysdale (67) and Marc Warren (68) were part

of a six-way tie for third. Retief Goosen finished 16th on 10-under

277 after his 73.

Charl Schwartzel, the Masters champion and two-time defending

champion at Royal Johannesburg, and 2002 U.S. PGA winner Rich Beem

didn’t make the cut.

England’s Richard Finch, who was tied with Grace on 15-under

when bad light ended the third round early on Saturday, saw his

challenge collapse with five bogeys and a double-bogey in his 78 on

Sunday. He slipped to a tie for 24th.

Home players Jaco van Zyl (68), Trevor Fisher Jr. (68), Dawie

van der Walt (70) and Michiel Bothma (71) shared third with

Drysdale and Warren.

Organizers had been forced to play catch-up for most of the

tournament after thunderstorms and bad light meant the first three

rounds had to be completed the following day.