England’s Chris Paisley claimed his first European Tour title with a three-shot victory over Branden Grace in the BMW SA Open hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni.
Chris Paisley fired an error-free final round of 66 at Glendower GC to post a four-round total of 21-under par and to finish three clear of home player Branden Grace. It was Paisley’s first victory on the European Tour.
Paisley began the final round a stroke ahead of the field but found himself behind Branden Grace after the South African started fast with a birdie and then and an eagle.
The Englishman held his nerve though and kept it steady on the front nine. After birdieing the 7th and 10th holes he moved four shots in front.
Grace attempted to rally on the back nine and an eagle on the 13th and then another gain on the 15th saw him reach 17-under. But Paisley wasn’t to be denied, he also birdied the 15th to remain four ahead.
Grace reduced the deficit to three with a tap-in birdie on the 16th but he wasn’t able to get any closer than that. Paisley parred the last two holes and took the title.
“I’m just so happy with how the week went and to get the win,” Paisley said. “I still can’t believe it. Going head-to-head against Branden, in his home country with pretty much everyone in the crowd on his side was tough but I just played great. I played out of my skin. I didn’t even think I was capable of playing that well to be honest, and to come out on top in such a wonderful place is amazing.”
3 Talking points from the BMW SA Open hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni
1 – Chris Paisley is the third English winner of this tournament in its last four instalments. Andy Sullivan was the victor in 2015 and Graeme Storm was champion last season. It was 31-year-old Paisley’s first victory since the English Challenge on the Challenger Tour back in 2012.
Paisley’s wife Keri was on the bag for the week and he was quick to praise her after his win. “My regular caddie is getting some stick but I just can’t say enough about how good of a job she has done this week and just in life in general,” he said. “She doesn’t know that much about golf but she knows me really well and she knows when I’m going a little quicker than I usually do or getting a bit tight. Coming up the last fairway with her next to me was just incredible.”
2 – Branden Grace was looking to win the event for the first time and to join Ernie Els as the only players to have won South Africa’s three most prestigious events. He made a good run but had to settle for second place. Still, he can console himself with the fact that he should move up to 27th place on the Official World Golf Ranking, just three places behind top-ranked South African Louis Oosthuizen.
Branden Grace swing sequence:
3 – Home player Hennie Otto looked like having a great chance of setting a course record in the final round, having posted 10 birdies through his first 16 holes. But a dropped shot at the 17th meant the 41-year-old former champion finished with a 64 to end the week on 11-under-par.
BMW SA Open hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni
Glendower GC, City of Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, South Africa
Purse: €1,050,000 Par: 72
1 Chris Paisley (Eng) 66 65 70 66 267 €159,669
2 Branden Grace (RSA) 65 71 66 68 270 €110,811
3 JC Ritchie (RSA) 72 70 65 65 272 €74,747
T4 Jacques Blaauw (RSA) 68 70 66 70 274 €42,243
T4 Jacques Kruysvijk (RSA) 68 70 66 70 274 €42,243
T4 Scott Vincent (Zim) 70 66 71 67 274 €42,243
T7 Darren Fichardt (RSA) 70 71 64 70 275 €24,001
T7 Chase Koepka (USA) 65 71 68 71 275 €24,001
T7 Renato Paratore (Ita) 71 67 69 68 275 €24,001
T7 Adrien Saddier (Fra) 68 63 73 71 275 €24,001
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage