Grace swings into contention

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South African Branden Grace plays a shot during the weather delayed second round of the Nelson Mandela Championship at Mount Edgecombe Country Club. Photo: Stuart Franklin

 

Johannesburg - The chaotic weather delays at the Nelson Mandela Championship tempered Branden Grace as he rediscovered his putting confidence en route to a second-round 66 at Mount Edgecombe Country Club on Friday.

He closed round two on 10-under-par and within one stroke of the lead.

“The turnaround point was on the second hole,” Grace said.

“I hit a great drive just short of the green and hit a good flop shot over the bunker to about five feet.

“I had a good, positive stroke into that, and when I made it I felt a lot better over the putts.”

The afternoon's play was suspended at 6.45pm due to bad light, and will resume at 6am on Saturday morning.

Englishman Daniel Brooks still had seven holes to complete when play was put on hold, and he will look to increase his current total of 12-under-par in the morning.

One shot ahead, and in fine form, Brooks has the chance to stretch out his lead before the close of round two, which precedes a cut to the top 65 players and those tied on the number.

Grace, a four-time European Tour winner, is without victory this season and the Nelson Mandela Championship is his last chance saloon.

“I feel like this week shows what happens when you make those few extra putts.

“I'm right up there again and it's all about the putting. If I can keep rolling the ball well, then hopefully tomorrow will be one more memory of lifting a trophy.

“It would be great to finish the year off with a win.”

One shot ahead of the ambitious young star are Spain's Jorge Campillo, who shot 59 on Friday to set the clubhouse lead on 11-under, and England's Matthew Baldwin.

A second 59 was recorded by Colin Nel, who had 11 putts on either nine and moved 120 places up the leaderboard into 23rd place.

Grace started at the 10th and had his patience tested while he churned through his first loop at level par.

On the front stretch, which was his second nine, he found the missing pieces of his game and birdied the sixth, seventh and eighth on his way to a share of second place.

Nel went from an opening 77 featuring one birdie to a 59 featuring nine birdies and an eagle for a total of four under.

The two 59s were just another bizarre twist in the tournament, in which the first round took three days to finish, and which went straight into the second round because of rain and a waterlogged course.

Neither 59 will go down as an official record on the European Tour, because they were on a Course One, reduced to a par-70

because of a waterlogged fifth fairway, and both used preferred lies.

In 2009, Peter Karmis shot 59 in the final round of the Sunshine Tour's Lombard Insurance Classic on his way to victory at the Royal Swazi Sun Country Club. It is still the only official 59 in Sunshine Tour history.

A feast of golf awaits on Saturday, with the second round still to be completed and the third round needing to be played the same day. The tournament has already been reduced to 54 holes. - Sapa


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