Grace four clear in search for five
Golf:South African Branden Grace remains on course for a startling fifth win of the season after a third-round 69 in the Dunhill Links Championship at Carnoustie today.
Playing much the toughest of the three courses used for the €3.88 million celebrity pro-am, the 24-year-old European Tour qualifying school graduate did double bogey the 15th, but there were still enough good shots to make it another good day’s work.
Grace began the week with a Tour record-equalling 60 at Kingsbarns and then added a 67 at St Andrews, where tomorrow’s final round tales place.
On 20 under par his lead stood at five shots after Dane Thorbjorn Olesen double-bogeyed the 17th at Kingsbarns, the hole where Scot Stephen Gallacher, winner in 2004, sank a 200-yard five-iron for an eagle two that took him into a tie for fourth, six behind.
Shane Lowry is the best of the Irish on seven under after carding a one-under 71 at Carnoustie, with Pádraig Harrington a shot behind on six under after a 66 on the Old Course. Peter Lawrie also made it to six under after a fine 68 at Carnoustie.
Defending champion Michael Hoey crashed out after he could only manage a level-par 72 to finish three shots away from making the cut on two under. Ryder Cup vice-captains Darren Clark and Paul McGinley will also miss the final day, as will Damien McGrane, Gareth Maybin and Simon Thornton.
Two of the three returning Ryder Cup players made the cut, but it will disappoint locals that the one to miss out was Paul Lawrie.
A 68 for three under at St Andrews was never likely to be enough for him. “I putted like an idiot,” he said afterwards. But Martin Kaymer’s 69 took him to six under and Peter Hanson matched that round to squeeze through on five under.
Lone American Dustin Johnson, winner of all his three games in the Chicago defeat, is alongside Kaymer thanks to a 67.
Grace said: “I didn’t play particularly well. There were loose shots here and there, but this course mentally does it to you. I kept fighting, got it around and finishing with a birdie is a bonus.
“Everybody calls it ‘Car-nasty’ (a name given during the 1999 Open when the rough was some of the worst ever and a 19-year-old Sergio Garcia finished last on 30 over) and it showed you still have to hit good shots.
“I’ve dreamt of picking any trophy up on that bridge on the 18th (at St Andrews), so maybe this time tomorrow it happens.”