Chase Koepka, Grace lead South African Open

Chase Koepka, Grace lead South African Open

Nearly two months ago to the day Branden Grace shot a 66 in the final round at Sun City to capture the Nedbank Golf Challenge and on Thursday he was at it again, firing a stunning 65 to grab a share of the lead after the first round of the 107th edition of the BMW SA Open at Glendower.

Grace achieved the rare feat of making three eagles in a single round and also made three birdies in a seven-under 65 which matched the earlier score of Koepka, brother of reigning US Open champion, Brooks.

World number 30 Grace, the highest ranked player in the field, scored all his eagles on par-five holes and secured his third with an excellent 20-foot putt on the 15th hole.

"It was fun. I don't think I've ever made three eagles in a round so I'm happy", said the Nedbank Golf Challenge champion.

"I was very rusty. I couldn't really do much, but yesterday was a good day for me".

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.

"Yeah, it was great".

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"I think I played flawless, except for the second shot on the first hole", said Koepka. 'I hit a poor shot and saved about a 12-footer for bogey there so it was big to start off my round.

Koepka, whose brother Brooks won the US Open previous year, had set the early clubhouse target after a round containing seven birdies, an eagle and two bogeys, with England's Chris Paisley a shot off the pace following a 66. Then I hit a nice shot to the second and made eagle and kind of kept it rolling from there'.

Englishman Chris Paisley is just one shot off the lead, while South African duo Erik van Rooyen and Richard Sterne are a further stroke back along with Nacho Elvira and Bradley Neil.

Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, who blew a four-shot lead with five holes to play in this event three years ago, is four shots off the lead after an opening 69.

It was not all good going though.

Tournament host Ernie Els found the going tough but still managed to offset three bogeys with four birdies in a 71, but defending champion Graeme Storm faces a battle to make the weekend after he struggled to a disappointing 75.

Trevor Immelman, the 2008 US Masters champion, also endured a hard start, scoring five bogeys and a double-bogey in a seven-over-par 79.