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Ken Borland


Grace passes a long day with banter & not letting his cold putter get to him

Posted on February 13, 2023 by Ken

Branden Grace passed a long Saturday on the Gary Player Country Club course by bantering with his caddy and not letting his cold putter get to him, and his relaxed approach worked as he will go into the final round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge just one stroke off the lead.

Due to the torrential rain on Friday, Grace had to complete 11 holes of his second round on Saturday morning, birdieing the ninth hole and then four of the first five holes on the back nine to rapidly climb the leaderboard. Although he struck the ball beautifully in the third round on Saturday afternoon, he only made two birdies and had to settle for a one-under 71. But it worked in terms of consolidating his position, and he and fellow South African Thriston Lawrence will start Sunday’s final round just one behind Thomas Detry and Rasmus Hojgaard.

“I feel good and I’m hitting the ball really good, probably as well as I have ever hit it around here,” Grace, the 2017 Nedbank Golf Challenge champion, said. “But I just could not get the pace of the greens.

“Every putt was probably a foot out, and it was probably because there was a bit of drizzle every now and then on the greens. But I will keep the same process in the final round.

“I have a mate on the bag and we talked a lot of nonsense out there, but sometimes taking your mind off the golf puts your head in a good space. Like when I won here, I’ll just try and go bogey-free in the final round.

“There’s always someone who comes out with a six or seven-under score, but if I can shoot five or six-under then I will definitely have a shout. But there’s no pressure on me, I’ve won it before and I’m just enjoying life and my golf,” Grace said.

It is little wonder that the 34-year-old is relaxed because he took away R304 028 130 from the six LIV Golf events he completed.

Lawrence was another who walked away from the Gary Player Country Club on Saturday evening extremely satisfied with his work, a seven-under-par 65 which was the best score of the third round. Beginning on the 10th, he had a birdie-bogey start, but then reeled off three successive birdies from the 13th hole. He gained back-to-back shots on the 18th and first holes, and then capped an outstanding round with birdies on the sixth and ninth holes.

“From the first round, my tee-to-green play has probably been my best all year, but my putter just wasn’t there,” Lawrence said. “But I stayed calm and patient and started to sink a few putts today.

“It was probably my best ever round on this course, and I couldn’t have asked for better than to be a shot back in my first time playing the Nedbank Golf Challenge. So it is exciting times,” Lawrence said.

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