Grace charges, but will not catch the Dutch Open leader

Sep 18, 2021 | Featured, South Africans abroad

He’s not going to catch the leader, but Branden Grace has picked up a proper head of steam after his third round of five-under-par 67 on Saturday in the European Tour’s Dutch Open at Bernardus Golf in Cromvoirt, Netherlands.

After looking as if he was going to miss the cut with some early bogeys in his second round, he has become the kind of player who owns the lowest round ever in a major championship, and he added seven birdies to his tally in the third round, and, with two bogeys, his 67 saw him climb 25 places on the leaderboard into a share of 15th.

At nine-under-par for the tournament, he might fancy a bit of a dart at the top spot if it were held by Denmark’s Marcus Helligkilde at 15-under-par. But the Dane is in second on that total, and he’s eight shots behind leader Sweden’s Kristoffer Broberg, who signed for an 11-under-par 61. Add that to the Swede’s opening four-under and his second-round eight-under 64, and 23-under seems untouchable ahead of the final round.

Grace started with four birdies in the first eight holes, and then he battled to keep things on an even keel for a short while. He made bogey on nine, birdie on 10 and bogey on 11, but then it was blemish-free all the way home with two more birdies.

Grace supplanted Justin Harding as the leading South African in the field as Harding fought the effects of two double bogeys and three bogeys. They were not enough to completely cancel out his eagle and four birdies and he carded a one-over 71 to slip to a share of 26th. Also in 26th were Bryce Easton, who had a superb five-under 67 for the second day in a row, and Wilco Nienaber, who had six birdies and three bogeys in his 69.

Ahead of them after a three-under 69 was Louis de Jager. He moved to eight-under and a share of 21st. And behind them was George Coetzee, who had a one-under 71. He’s a four-under for the tournament in a share of 50th.

Up front, Broberg’s 11-under included, incredibly, a bogey, and he made pars on the seventh and the 18th, two of the par-fives. It’s hard to see him being caught.

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