SUN CITY, South Africa (Reuters) - Branden Grace sank a 40-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole to set up victory at the Nedbank Golf Challenge on Sunday as he carded a blistering final round 66 to win by a single shot from Briton Scott Jamieson.
The 29-year-old came from three shots back overnight at the Gary Player Country Club for an 11-under-par total of 277, an eighth European Tour victory and a $1.25 million purse in the penultimate event of the season.
Grace is the first home winner of South Africa’s biggest tournament — dubbed Africa’s Major — since Trevor Immelman a decade ago after going out in 33 on Sunday and then sinking three more birdies on the back nine for a six-under-par round.
Jamieson, 33, had a one-shot lead after Saturday but ended on 278 following a final round 70 which included a double bogey at the eighth hole.
Frenchman Victor Dubuisson was third. The second-round leader had started seven under-par and picked up two more shots on Sunday with a final round 70.
Chinese golfer Li Haotong recorded the best round of the tournament on Sunday, storming up the leaderboard to fourth with a 64.
It was Grace’s first tournament win since he enjoyed success on the PGA Tour in South Carolina some 18 months ago.
“It’s a dream come true to win. It was a hard weekend for South African sports fans but luckily this can put a couple of smiles on faces,” he said.
South Africa’s soccer team were eliminated from World Cup qualification on Friday while the Springbok rugby side suffered a 38-3 thrashing at the hands of Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.
“I felt if I could go bogey free today I would have a chance. I drove well all week and it allowed me to be aggressive when I needed to be and it paid off,” he added.
In July, Grace shot a 62 in the third round of the Open at Royal Birkdale to set the record for the lowest round in a major championship.
Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Toby Davis