Chris Paisley shot 2-under 70 on Saturday at Glendower Golf Club and heads into the final round of the BMW SA Open Championship with a one-shot lead over Branden Grace.
Paisley, who is seeking his first European Tour title, finished his round with three birdies against just one bogey. After a birdie on the par-five 15th, the Englishman held a three-shot lead at 4-under par, but a bogey on the next hole, No. 16, dropped the 31-year old back to 3 under.
Two pars to close, saw Paisley walk away with a three-day score of 15 under, and a one-stroke advantage over a surging Grace.
“Obviously playing with Gracie (in the final round), who’s won God knows how many times on Tour and obviously is a great player, and in his home country. I’m sure the crowd is going to be on his side. I’m just really excited about it,” said Paisley, who won All-American honors at Tennessee in 2009.
Grace, the home-crowd favorite, started the day five shots off the lead, and was just 1-under 35 at the turn after a bogey on No. 9. But the 29-year old heated up on the inward nine with birdies on 11 and 13, followed by a hat trick on 15, 16, and 17, en route to a 6-under 66, good for solo-second at 14 under.
“I got frustrated out there to be quite honest,” Grace admitted. “I thought I hit the ball superbly through 13 holes, but just couldn’t get it in the hole.
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow big-time. I’ve played myself right back into it and I’m really excited going into tomorrow. It will be a big advantage to have that support tomorrow.”
Grace, who won the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City two months ago, is aiming to become just the second player to capture South Africa’s three most prestigious events, behind player host Ernie Els.
South African Jacques Blaauw was at 12 under, alongside American Chase Koepka (68) and Frenchman Adrien Saddier (73), after a third-round 66 which produced seven birdies, three bogeys and a highlight-reel chip-in eagle from the bunker at the par-four 12th.
Darren Fichardt, another native South African, fired a low-round 8-under 64 to sit solo-sixth at 11 under.
TOP 10: ROUND THREE
1 Chris Paisley -15
2 Branden Grace -14
3 Adrien Saddier -12
3 Jacques Blaauw -12
3 Chase Koepka -12
6 Darren Fichardt -11
7 Jeff Winther -10
7 Jacques Kruyswijk -10
7 Trevor Fisher Jr -10
7 Seven players tied at -9
BIRDIE OF THE DAY
Grace with a birdie on the par-four 16th, the second of three-straight birdies on Nos. 15-17.
“Being tied for the lead isn’t a position I’ve been in a lot. I’m really proud with how I’ve played, I felt really calm and never really felt stressed.”
– Chris Paisley
Credits: European Tour Media, Getty Images