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Grace and Chase set South African Open pace

12 January 2018

Grace was in stupendous form on Thursday afternoon, making three birdies and three eagles, to go with two bogeys for a 65, seven-under-par, and sit alongside United States golfer Chase Koepka atop the leaderboard.

The South African added three birdies and two bogeys to eagles at the par-5 second, eighth and 15th for a 65 that sees he and Koepka one ahead of England's Chris Paisley.

On a day when Koepka, the younger brother of US Open champion Brooks, set the clubhouse target after an effort containing seven birdies, David Drysdale was next best among four Scots in the field, finishing birdie-birdie for a level-par 72 to sit joint 60th.

"I can't remember when, or if, I've ever made three eagles in a round but it was fun", he said. 'I hit a poor shot and saved about a 12-footer for bogey there so it was big to start off my round.

"The eagles were not really a sign of playing aggressively", he said. I was quite aggressive with the three-wood and I managed to knock it about 25 feet and managed to roll in the putt.

Most of the golfers interviewed before the start of the South African Open agreed that the Glendower Golf Club course would demand good driving and putting in order to excel, and Branden Grace epitomised that as he fired a fantastic seven-under-par 65 to claim a share of the first-round lead on Thursday.

"The rest was trying to hit it into position and trying to make the putts".

"I think I played flawless, except for the second shot on the first hole", said Koepka. "I had them all on line but the speed was just a little bit short on some of them".

Neil, who graduated from the Challenge Tour last season, started his career on the main European circuit by making the cut in the Hong Kong Open in November before suffering an early exit in both the Mauritius Open and Joburg Open just before Christmas. I definitely left a lot of shots out there today, so hopefully I can keep up this kind of play.

"On all the par-fives, I pretty much hit great tee-shots and really gave myself some chances". Then my wedge spun back into the water on nine, so holing my wedge on ten was a bit of justice.

A birdie at the 8th and a run of three straight from the 13th had him back on track but a late disappointment awaited with a final bogey of the day at the 16th.

Scrivener, who was born in in South Africa before moving to Australia at the age of five, dropped shots at the first, second and fifth then made a double bogey at the sixth.

Grace and Chase set South African Open pace