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Friday, 16 November, 2018

Grace set to take control on his beloved back-nine

Local hero can thrill the Nedbank galleries

Branden Grace has always been formidable when in contention
1 of 1

Fourth round
Sky Sports Golf, 8am Sunday

Story so far
Scott Jamieson was a 225-1 ante-post rag for the Nedbank Challenge, but the unheralded Scot leads going into the final round at Gary Player Country Club.

Jamieson is a best-price 19-5 with 18 holes to play in South Africa. His only previous European Tour success came in the same country – a weather-reduced, 36-hole Nelson Mandela Championship in 2012.

Jamieson leads Victor Dubuisson by a shot, with former Nedbank champion Martin Kaymer and leading South African Branden Grace tied for third place, two further shots off the pace.

Pre-tournament 14-1 favourite, Tyrrell Hatton, shares 26th position, nine shots behind Jamieson, while Race to Dubai leader, Tommy Fleetwood, is tied for seventh.

Leaderboard
-8 Scott Jamieson
-7 Victor Dubuisson
-5 Martin Kaymer, Branden Grace
-3 Francesco Molinari, Haydn Porteous
-2 Lee Westwood, Ross Fisher, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen, David Drysdale, Matthieu Pavon, Tommy Fleetwood

Best prices
5-2 V Dubuisson, 19-5 S Jamieson, 9-2 B Grace, 7 M Kaymer, 20 F Molinari, 33 T Fleetwood, L Oosthuizen, 35 H Porteous, 40 C Schwartzel, R Fisher, 50 L Westwood, 80 bar

Final-round advice
Scott Jamieson enjoys performing in South Africa and he famously compiled form figures of 1-3-2 there at the start of the 2013 European Tour season.

Sixth place in the Andalucia Valderrama Masters at the end of last month was an encouraging return to form for Jamieson, but he finished 66th of 78 runners in Turkey last week to suggest it was a flash in the pan.

Jamieson is a decent but far from elite player, and victory on his Nedbank debut in a field boasting plenty of quality would be a career-best achievement by some distance. His Nelson Mandela success was in a two-round sprint on a course which was turned into a pitch and putt due to weather damage, and he fell over the line in a playoff.

Jamieson looks too short in the betting going into round four. He has the lead, but Gary Player Country Club is the sort of layout where scoring is extremely volatile. Good golf can be handsomely rewarded, while anyone slightly off their game is often seriously punished. And there is plenty of class in the chasing pack.

Victor Dubuisson, Branden Grace and Martin Kaymer are the most interesting outright runners. Dubuisson is a peculiar character, who goes missing for large spells of the season before banking a juicy cheque at one of his favourite haunts. GPCC, where he has finished fourth and third the last two years, certainly fits that description.

Dubuisson loves this track and tops the greens in regulaton charts this week. The Frenchman has been sensibly concentrating on fairway-finding, unworried about leaving himself long approaches, and has been in control of his long-game throughout.

A bright weekend in Turkey last week indicated Dubuisson was timing his run well for another Nedbank title tilt, and he is swinging like a champion. The concern for Dubuisson is on the greens and between the ears. Putting confidence has been low for a few years and he is easily upset. He has never won on the European Tour outside of Turkey.

If Dubuisson can turn this tournament into a duel with Jamieson, the former Ryder Cup man can be expected to prevail. He should prove too consistent from tee to green for the Scot. But it seems unlikely that the leading duo will be able to shake off the pair lurking just behind.

Aside from a mad few holes in the second half of the front nine in round two, Grace has been his usual, reliable self this week. He carded three double-bogeys in a horror front-nine 42 on Friday, but fought back with a three-under-par back-nine, then a round-three 68.

Grace has a strong record competing in his homeland and is desperate to kill two birds with one stone on Sunday by winning his first title of 2017 and his first Nedbank.

As the leading South African in 'Africa's Major', Grace will carry enthusiastic support from the galleries, who could easily unsettle Jamieson and Dubuisson in the final threeball.

Grace has scored considerably better on the back-nine than the front over the first three days (six over par; 11 under par). If Grace can stay close to Jamieson and Dubuisson in the early stages and keep the crowd involved, expect the local hero, typically formidable in contention, to take control on the closing stretch.

Kaymer won the Nedbank in 2012 and has been hitting his ball well over recent weeks. Grace, Dubuisson, Kaymer, Jamieson may be the leaderboard order after 72 holes, with Ross Fisher, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen and Tommy Fleetwood scrapping for the remaining each-way spot.

Racing Post Sport followers who are on Grace ante-post at 16-1 may choose to have some cover on Dubuisson at 5-2. In-running punters looking to get involved at this stage are pointed towards 9-2 Grace as the best value. Grace has the temperament to boss the final threeball.

Fleetwood hit full flow with a round-three 67 and can be fancied to outclass David Drysdale and Matthieu Pavon in their Sunday shootout (8.19am UK and Ireland time), while Kaymer can produce another solid round on terrain he enjoys and defeat Francesco Molinari and Haydn Porteous.

Threeballs recommendations
T Fleetwood
2pts 10-11 bet365
M Kaymer
1pt 9-5 bet365, Paddy Power


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Jamieson leads Victor Dubuisson by a shot, with former Nedbank champion Martin Kaymer and leading South African Branden Grace tied for third
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