South African Open: Branden Grace cards three eagles in opening round

Chase Koepka a European Tour rookie co-leads at BMW SA Open			Warren Little  Getty Images

Grace was in stupendous form on Thursday afternoon, making three birdies and three eagles, to go with two bogeys for a 65, seven-under-par, and sit alongside United States golfer Chase Koepka atop the leaderboard.

On a day when Koepka, the younger brother of US Open champion Brooks, set the clubhouse target after an effort containing seven birdies, David Drysdale was next best among four Scots in the field, finishing birdie-birdie for a level-par 72 to sit joint 60th.

'I was a little bit rusty with some of the wedge shots but all in all very pleased with the outcome and I think I pretty much got the most out of that round.

Grace, a South African, had a haywire front nine that included two eagles, two birdies and two bogeys.

Branden Grace launched his bid for back-to-back European Tour victories on home soil by firing a lead-sharing 65 in the South African Open at Glendower Golf Club near Johannesburg on Thursday (Jan 11). "On all the par-fives, I hit great tee shots". The only one I really was aggressive with was the second hole.

The pair had a one-stroke edge over Chris Paisley of England and two over Bradley Neil of Scotland, South Africa's Erik van Rooyen and Richard Sterne, and Spain's Nacho Elvira.

"On all the par-fives, I pretty much hit great tee-shots and really gave myself some chances".

Jamie Donaldson, Europe's Ryder Cup match-winner against the Americans at Gleneagles four years ago, claimed the circuit's first hole-in-one in
2018 courtesy of a 9-iron at the 152-yard 14th hole.

"I got aggressive with the 3-wood and knocked it in there 25 feet and managed to roll in the putt". "So I played well", a chuffed Grace said after his round.

"I left a few short today. I had the lines on all of them, but the speed was just a little off".

Paisley, who is seeking his first European Tour title, said: 'I'm really happy coming off five weeks off.

"Inside 150 yards, I was really good today". So, it was a big deal to start off my round, you don't want to make double on the opening hole.

Scrivener, who was born in in South Africa before moving to Australia at the age of five, dropped shots at the first, second and fifth then made a double bogey at the sixth.

Tournament host Ernie Els carded an opening 71, while Retief Goosen was on three-under 69, together with Charl Schwartzel who had a frustrating day with three bogeys in his round.

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