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​The Joburg Open trophy will remain in South Africa – it was won by Branden Grace with a single shot lead over Jamie Elson from the UK.
SOUTH African golfer Branden Grace stormed to victory in the sixth Joburg Open at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club on 15 January, finishing off with an overall score of 17-under-par and a one-shot lead over England’s Jamie Elson.

Executive mayor Parks Tau hands over the Joburg Open trophu to Branden GraceExecutive mayor Parks Tau hands over the Joburg Open trophu to Branden Grace“It is a dream come true, and there is nothing nicer than winning in front of a home crowd,” he said after sinking his winning par putt on the 18th green of the East Course on Sunday. Play was tough as a result of the amount of rain Joburg has received, and was suspended each of the previous three days because of inclement weather.

Grace did not let this stop him though: “I don’t think there is anything you can do about it. Nature calls and you just have to keep your head down and keep going,” he said. However, he also gave credit to the groundskeepers for keeping the course in immaculate condition despite all the challenges.

Zack Rasego, Grace’s caddy, was also acknowledged as a source of his success: “We have built up a good relationship, and he was very supportive throughout the game. I hope we can continue working together.”

Grace hit his way to the top after round two on Friday, overtaking England’s Robert Rock with a whirlwind round of seven birdies and nine pars on the West Course. He finished the round on five-under-par 66.

A magnificent third round performance meant that Grace took a three-shot lead going into the final day; South African George Coetzee and Richard Finch both followed at 14-under. Going into the final round, Grace said: “I’m hitting the ball well and I’m putting really nicely, which is a bonus for me at this stage.

A dream come true: Branden Grace lifts the Joburg Open trophyA dream come true: Branden Grace lifts the Joburg Open trophy“I’m going to stick to my game plan and just keep doing what I’ve been doing,” he said. “You just need to give yourself birdie opportunities.”

Birdie opportunities were slim, though, and he only managed to net one on the day, on the ninth hole of the East Course. He held firm with 16 pars, and finished the round with a score of 72; he also managed to retain a one-shot lead over England’s Jamie Elson, who hit a faultless eagle on the 18th hole.

On hand to present the trophy to the elated Grace were Executive Mayor Parks Tau and City manager Trevor Fowler. Tau noted in a statement: “Johannesburg is growing its reputation as a premier sporting destination – not only in Africa, but in the entire southern hemisphere.

“The Joburg Open is one of the ‘jewels in our crown’ because of the way in which it promotes our city as a destination of choice for tourists, businesspeople and investors.”

The TV presenter, Dale Hayes, hosted the prize giving and also praised the flawless organisation of the event. “South Africa proves that we punch above our weight in hosting golf tournaments, and the Joburg Open is no exception,” he said. “Joburg is proud of its tournament.”

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