Sun City – Branden Grace dropped his first shot on the back nine for
the week in the third round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge as he carded a four-under-par 68 score to total five-under par and
maintain his shared third spot on moving day.
The South African has had to deal with drops every day of
the tournament on the front stretch, but his performance on the homeward nine
has literally kept him in contention in the $7.5 million event.
“I’m a grinder, a fighter,” he said of how he’s managed to
come back strongly on the back nine for the better part of this tournament.
“Yesterday wasn’t the best of stuff. The first nine didn’t really feel too
good. Mind over matter, a little bit after that. I told myself that If I can
get it to under par, I’m still in this tournament. And I knew I had to grind a
good score out today.”
Indeed, he did grind that good score on Saturday. He made
consecutive pars on his first four holes before dropping a shot on the par-five
fifth hole. Birdies on the sixth and eighth holes made up for that drop but it
was on the back nine that he played strongly. After turning in 35, the 29-year
old Grace made back-to-back birdies on 10 and 11, and again on 14 and
15 to sign for a 68. On a total of five-under, he, along with Germany’s Martin
Kaymer, lies three shots behind leader Scott Jamieson.
“I think five-under was my target,” Grace admitted.
“But, I was
obviously disappointed bogeying the last. I think that was my only poor shot I
hit all day off the tee but those things happen but it’s still a good round.
Tomorrow anything can happen so hopefully I can pull an Alex off tomorrow.”
He will take comfort in knowing – from last season’s
experience when Alex Noren came from six shots behind to win this tournament – that
it is never over until the last putt is sunk.
The chase, however, will not be an easy one as Jamieson is
also looking good going into the final round. He signed for an unblemished
five-under-par 67 round in which he made three birdies on the front and two
more on the back nine.
“I was much better on the greens today than I have been in
the last couple of days,” said Jamieson.
“I need a good week to get myself into
Dubai next week, so that’s at the back of my mind as well. So, hopefully I can
just win the golf tournament and that will take care of itself.”
Forward-looking as he may be, Jamieson refuses to put
pressure on himself ahead of the final round at the Gary Player Country Club
and aims to draw on similar past experiences when he tees off on Sunday.
think I’ve won from five behind and lost from six in front before, so the key
is just not to panic and know I’m going to have some bad shots but there’s
always going to be holes beyond to recover.”
Also in contention on moving day is debutant Haydn Porteous
whose five-under 67 third round took him to three-under for the week and in a
share of fifth with Italy’s Francesco Molinari. Louis Oosthuizen and Charl
Schwartzel are two-under for the tournament and share the seventh spot with
Matthieu Pavon of France, England’s Tommy Fleetwood, Scotland’s David Drysdale
and Englishmen, Ross Fisher and Lee Westwood.