SOUTH African’s Branden Grace carded a level-par 72 in his final round to win the Johannesburg Open 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 yesterday.
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, ended up finishing the tournament on 17 under par, 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.
A victorious Grace said after claiming his maiden European Tour title: “This is a dream come true, it’s nice to win in front of my home crowd, I wouldn’t change it for anything else.”
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 morning to move to 17 under.
Grace said: “It was pretty tough out there today. I must say I actually played really nicely, I think I hit the ball superb, and then my putter was just cold, I couldn’t get the speed of the greens going today, but fortunately at the end of the day it was enough.”
Grace also praised his caddie, adding: “I think there was one big key today, Zack (Rasego) on the bag, kept me calm throughout the whole day so big thanks to him.”
Sheffield golfer Danny Willett finished in joint 14th position after carding a final round of 72, six shots behind Grace.