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Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

Branden Grace set to serve up another treat for home fans

Frontrunner Chris Paisley looks vulnerable

Branden Grace could be getting his hands on another trophy
1 of 1

Sky Sports Golf, 10am Sunday

Story so far
Ante-post 150-1 rag Chris Paisley kept his name atop the SA Open leaderboard in round three, but local hero Branden Grace is breathing right down his neck.

Paisley carded a humdrum 70, his putter much colder than it was for the first two days, posting a 15-under-par total for 54 holes. The European Tour maiden is 7-2 to make his breakthrough at Glendower Golf Club.

Grace made a slow start to the third round, picking up just one shot on the front nine, but his putter came alive over the closing stretch. The Nedbank champion made five birdies from the 11th hole onwards, a round of 66 leaving him just one shot behind Paisley.

There is a two-shot gap between Grace and third place, and the class act of the leaderboard is a best-price 10-11 to win his national Open for the first time. Grace, who turns 30 in May, is chasing his ninth European Tour title and his fifth in South Africa.

-15 Chris Paisley
-14 Branden Grace
-12 Adrien Saddier, Chase Koepka, Jacques Blaauw
-11 Darren Fichardt
-10 Jacques Kruyswijk, Jeff Winther, Trevor Fisher
-9 Scott Vincent, Renato Paratore, Matthieu Pavon, Kyle McClatchie, Richard Bland, Jorge Campillo, JC Ritchie
-8 Charl Schwartzel, Marcus Kinhult, Dylan Frittelli

Best prices
10-11 B Grace, 7-2 C Paisley, 16 A Saddier, J Blaauw, 18 C Koepka, 20 D Fichardt, 40 T Fisher, 45 J Kruyswijk, 50 C Schwartzel, 66 J Winther, M Pavon, 80 bar

Final-day advice
Branden Grace loves performing in front of home galleries and he had his supporters in raptures on the back-nine in round three at Glendower.

As is so often the case with this gritty player, Grace found top gear when it mattered most, putting himself in fantastic shape for the final round. He has a tendency to slow up on Fridays, which was the case again this week, but weekends seem to bring out the best in this proven champion.

More golf tips

Sony Open

EurAsia Cup

When this tough cookie gets his name on the leaderboard, the rest of the field are in trouble, because the winning post holds no fears for him. This tournament was getting away from the pride of Pretoria on Saturday, with Chris Paisley stretching clear at the top, but Grace got into the zone and battled his way back to favouritism.

Paisley was giving himself hearty pats on the back in the post-round interview, explaining how calm he felt and how well he played, but Sundays are typically a different kettle of fish for maidens attempting to claim a trophy for the first time. The 31-year-old got a Challenge Tour title under his belt in 2012, but is yet to prove himself among the big boys.

Paisley will be out in the final twoball alongside Grace, knowing 99 percent of those in attendance are hoping the South African triumphs. That is not an ideal environment for a nervous maiden to enjoy his day in the sun, particularly one who typically relies on his putter to get him out of trouble. Paisley is unreliable from tee to green and is a surprising pacesetter on a tight layout.

Adrien Saddier, six years younger than Paisley, won on the Challenge Tour last year and may end up providing Grace with more of a challenge on Sunday than the leader. Saddier is strong from tee to green and could easily bounce back from his disappointing third-round 73. The Frenchman is a fair price at 16-1 for punters looking for an outright alternative to Grace.

Racing Post Sport followers are on Grace at 13-2, so have no need to get further involved at 10-11. Charl Schwartzel has almost certainly left himself too much catching up to do from six shots behind Grace, and Saddier could be the man to give the ante-post tip most to worry about.

The Grace and Saddier dual forecast is well worth an extra investment at 10-1 with Sky Bet. The final twoball of Paisley and Grace is scheduled to tee off at 10.15am UK and Ireland time.

Grace-Saddier dual forecast
1pt 10-1 Sky Bet

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When this tough cookie gets his name on the leaderboard, the rest of the field are in trouble
E.W. Terms
Sky bet