Branden Grace has five South African titles to his name but the BMW SA Open is not one of them; on course to challenge on Sunday the world-number-30 was seen off on home soil by Chris Paisley.
In the end it was a stroll for Paisley who ran out winner by three shots but after an early surge Grace will be disappointed he was not able to add another home trophy to his cabinet.Embed from Getty Images
Having started the day just one shot off the pace-setter Paisley, Grace would have been hopeful of a challenge for the title, with a further two shot gap between him and any trailers.
Opening with a birdie and an eagle his hopes would have only been bolstered, before a frustrating double-bogey on the par three sixth knocked him back.
By the halfway stage of the final round Paisley, caddied by his wife Kerri, had made four birdies without dropping a shot and had extended his lead to four strokes.Embed from Getty Images
Offensive rounds from Renato Paratore, JC Ritchie, Scott Vincent and Jacques Blaauw got them all to within one-shot of Grace, too, at 14-under-par.
Grace’s challenge took a turn for the worse on the 12th. His iron drive found the water and meant a penalty drop. The approach matched his rival and he and Paisley sat side-by-side on the green – but Grace for an extra shot.Embed from Getty Images
Grace slipped to tied second with a bogey only to then lose out on any hold of second spot when Ritchie came within millimetres of an albatross and secured an eagle to move to 16-under-par. Ritchie moved to within three of Paisley’s lead, whilst Grace was now five back.
Determined not to let his challenge dwindle, Grace attacked the flag in two on the par five 13th and, from 203 yards, put his approach to three feet for an eagle that moved him back towards Paisley, now at 20-under.
Back tied with Ritchie in tied second, Grace was still four shots off Paisley’s convincing lead with just five holes to play. A par and a birdie followed for Grace and Paisley and the lead was maintained with just three to play.
That deficit would be too much for Grace to recover from despite closing the gap to three strokes as Paisley went on to claim his maiden European Tour title and leave Grace waning for his first BMW SA Open victory.