Grace stumbles as Oosthuizen leads Africa Open

There was more movement on the leaderboard than you expect from a New York City card-sharp as Open champion Louis Oosthuizen ended up sharing the round three lead of the €1-million Africa Open.

His four-under-par 69 on the 6,104-metre (6,674-yard) par-73 East London Golf Club saw him share a one-stroke lead with Austrian Markus Brier, who carded a three-under 70.

But both players stumbled over the final three holes – Oosthuizen with a bogey on 18, and Brier with one on 16 – on a day during which their 13-under-par totals going into the final round looked as if they were going to be at least two shots off the pace.

“This course needs the wind,” said Oosthuizen after a day without strong winds. “I hope the wind comes up a bit tomorrow, and then we can get back to the golf we played on the first two days.”

Branden Grace appeared to be sailing serenely to a comfortable lead going into the final round before he misjudged his second into the 16th, going through the green. Twice in succession, he was unable to get a club on the ball as he swung at it buried in thick grass.

The resultant triple-bogey seven saw him slip out of sole possession of the lead at 15-under to 12-under with two holes to play.

Ahead of him, however, Oosthuizen who had inherited the sole lead at 14-under, had to take a penalty drop when he hit his tee shot into unplayable rough on 18. He was unable to salvage par, slipping to 13-under for the tournament.

Grace was clearly unnerved by the problems he had on 16, and pulled his tee shot on the 152-metre (166-yard) 17th right.

His ball came to rest against a tree, and his second ended up on a paved path. He got his third out to within 12 feet of the pin, but he was clearly haemorrhaging badly. He finished with a double bogey five there, and found himself at level-par for the round at 10-under – where he started the day.

“I played great golf for 16 holes,” he said. “The last three holes just bit me at the end. It was a couple of funny decisions I made and a couple of wrong clubs, but all in all, I’m happy to be in contention.”

And Brier dropped his only shot of the day on 16 when he, like Grace, overshot the green. But he was able to recover enough to drop just a single shot, and, with two birdies and an eagle on his card, the damage was not too bad.

But the musical chairs in top spot on the leaderboard meant that field behind them bunched up.

Defending champion Charl Schwartzel appeared to be struggling for the early part of his homeward nine as he dropped shots on the 10th and the 12th, but he birdied four of his last five holes to card a five-under-par 68 and move to 12-under for the tournament.

And Jaco van Zyl, a four-time winner on last year’s Sunshine Tour, while he didn’t make a single birdie on his homeward nine, still moved threateningly to within a shot of the lead together with Schwartzel, Manuel Quiros of Spain and Jbe’ Kruger.

Kruger fired a six-under 67, one of the rounds of the day. England’s Chris Wood matched that to slip into a share of seventh at 11-under, while the best round of the day came from England’s Robert Dinwiddie, who, like Van Zyl, was bogey-free during his seven-under 66 which lifted him to 10-under.

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