It’s been a struggle for a player who thrilled South Africa with his 2012 breakthrough year, but Branden Grace has played three very good rounds ahead of the final day of the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.
He’s always said he’s good on links courses – he’s based out of The Links Fancourt – and he has kept things steady while better players around him are losing their heads under the intense scrutiny provided by major championship play. He carded rounds of one-under 71, level-par and three-under 69 to find himself at four-under-par in a share of 19th going into the final round.
While that leaves him a long way off the punishing 16-under-par pace set by Rory McIlroy, who seems set to march to an Open Championship coronation which has been a long time coming, the reality is that the Northern Irishman seems to be playing a different game to the rest of the field, as the pursuers are led by Rickie Fowler on 10-under-par.
Grace’s third round was the best by the four South Africans who made the cut at Hoylake – Charl Schwartzel is ahead of him going into the final round at six-under-par after his third round of level-par; George Coetzee carded a two-over 74 to be at three-under for the championship; and Louis Oosthuizen would have been disappointed with his four-over 76 which saw him drop into a share of 31st.
Grace was particularly impressive over the closing stretch on Saturday, making three birdies in a good effort to get himself into contention for a top-10 finish.