South African Open 2020 latest leaderboard and report: Branden Grace claims title with closing 62

Branden Grace poses with the trophy
Branden Grace poses with the trophy

A review of the latest action from the 2020 South African Open in Johannesburg.


Leaderboard

-21 Grace

-18 Oosthuizen

-16 M. Armitage

-15 Senior, Ahlers


Day four report

Branden Grace shot a final-day 62 to deny compatriot Louis Oosthuizen back-to-back victories in the South African Open in Johannesburg.

The home pair battled it out over the fourth round, with last year's champion Oosthuizen starting the day at 15 under par and with a one-shot advantage over second-placed Marcus Armitage with Grace two further behind.

Despite carding a bogey five at the second, it was Grace who produced a rousing finish, cancelling out his earlier error with an eagle three at the fourth along with eight birdies inside the first 14 holes to ease himself to 21-under on a day when he putted just 22 times.

It was his ninth European Tour victory and his first since the 2017 Nedbank Golf Challenge.

Even a hole-in-one at the par three eighth could not keep Oosthuizen in touch as he finished with a round of 68 which included just a single birdie to trail the winner by three shots.

Englishman Armitage birdied the 18th to snatch third place with a round of 69 after bogey fives at the sixth and 16th holes.

He finished a shot ahead of compatriot Jack Senior and South African Jaco Ahlers, who tied for fourth on 15 under.

Grace's efforts at the Randpark Golf Club secured him a place at this summer's Open Championship at Royal St George's along with fellow qualifiers Ahlers and Armitage.

Senior was denied a place at Sandwich when Armitage birdied the final hole of the tournament, sparking wild celebrations on the 18th green.


Day three report

Home favourite Louis Oosthuizen fired a bogey-free 64 to boost his hopes of back-to-back South African Open titles in Johannesburg.

The 2010 Open champion shot seven birdies to hold a one-shot advantage over England's Marcus Armitage, who raced through the field with a stunning 62 taking him to 14 under.

Oosthuizen could become the first player to successfully defend this title since fellow South African Trevor Immelman 16 years ago.

The 37-year-old, who is chasing a 10th European Tour victory, holed a 15-footer on the second, made another birdie on the third, and completed his hat-trick with the help of a delicate chip on the fourth.

Oosthuizen turned in 31 after a seven-foot putt at the ninth and added birdies at 11, 13 and 14 on the back nine.

Salford-born Armitage clearly has a taste for the Firethorn Course at Randpark Golf Club having carded a bogey-free 65 on day one.

Armitage, who regained his card at the Qualifying School having first made his way onto the European Tour in 2016, climbed 42 places with a round of two eagles, six birdies and just a single dropped shot.

The 32-year-old's effort would have been a course record had preferred lies not been in place.

"That's why we play golf for those days, it was just magic," Armitage was quoted as saying on the European Tour website.

"I holed a nice little wedge on three and it just went from there."

Jaco Ahlers is one shot adrift of Armitage after making six birdies and three bogeys in a round of 68.

A five-strong group on 12 under contains England's Andy Sullivan, who carded a round of 67, and a quartet of South Africans - Jayden Schaper, Branden Grace, Jacques Blaauw and Martin Rohwer.

Schaper was the overnight leader and the 18-year-old amateur stayed in contention with a two-under-par 69.


Day two report

Teenage amateur Jayden Schaper sits a single shot behind tournament leader Tapio Pulkkanen following day two in Johannesburg.

The 18-year-old South African is bidding to become the first amateur winner of the event since 1959 and the first amateur to win on the European Tour since Shane Lowry lifted the Irish Open trophy in 2009.

Playing alongside defending champion Louis Oosthuizen, Schaper made five birdies in six holes on the back nine of the Firethorn Course to catapult himself to 10 under.

He is joined in joint second place by compatriots Jaco Ahlers, Trevor Fisher Jnr and Thriston Lawrence and England's Sam Horsfield.

"It's special to be up at the top of the leaderboard," Schaper told the European Tour website.

"Obviously there will be a bit of nerves but I kind of enjoy them and I kind of feed off them so I'm just looking forward to starting the weekend.

"I've put myself in these positions before with amateur golf. It's the same golf course, the same 14 clubs in the bag, the same shots, there's just a few more people walking around watching."

There was a seven-way tie for the lead at one point on an enthralling day at Randpark Golf Club.

Finland's Pulkkanen eventually secured a slender advantage at the midway point of the competition after carding a bogey-free round, which included five birdies.

Overnight leader Johannes Veerman dropped to joint seventh, two strokes off the lead, after five bogeys saw him only make par.

The American sits alongside Englishmen Jack Senior and Harry Hall and South African Daniel Greene.

Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open Championship winner, is among 12 players one shot further back along with compatriots George Coetzee and Branden Grace.


Day one report

American Johannes Veerman shot a bogey-free, nine-under-par 62 to take the first-round lead at the South African Open in Johannesburg.

Veerman carded nine birdies, seven of which came on the back nine, to claim a one-stroke advantage over South Africa's JC Ritchie and Italian Nino Bertasio at Randpark Golf Club.

Home favourite Branden Grace was one shot further back, in a group of six players on seven under which included two more South Africans in Toto Thimba Jnr and Rourke Van Der Spuy.

Chilean Matias Calderon, England's Sam Horsfield and Greek Peter Karmis also shot 64s.

Veerman's round on the Bushwillow Course - one of two courses being used in the event - was his lowest on the European Tour and continued a remarkable run that began at Qualifying School last autumn.

The 27-year-old looked like missing out on a card when he sat five over after two rounds but then scores of 67, 67, 66 and 66 saw him claim a place on tour. He has since secured two top-10 finishes in three events.

Veerman told europeantour.com: "I've been practising really hard over the last six or seven months and I've been getting better. To come out and start 2020 playing like this gives me a lot of confidence.

"It is only the first round but it is a step in the correct direction."

Veerman played a steady opening nine with birdies at the second and fifth before bursting into life with three more in succession from the 10th.

That took him into a share of the lead and he then moved clear by birdying his last four holes.

Bertasio drew level with an eagle on the 17th but then a poor tee shot led to a bogey at the last. Ritchie also played bogey free and finished strongly with birdies on the 17th and 18th.

Grace's 64 was the lowest round of the day on the Firethorn Course.

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