Sun, Jan 22, 2012 - Page 18 News List

Grace goes four clear as Olazabal rolls back years

Reuters, GEORGE, SOUTH AFRICA

South African Branden Grace stormed into a four-shot lead after the Volvo Golf Champions second round on Friday to boost his chances of recording back-to-back European Tour victories.

Grace fired a seven-under 66 for a 12-under total of 134, four ahead of fellow countryman Thomas Aiken (70) and Briton Lee Slattery (65). Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal (68), seeking his first win in seven years, was fourth on 139.

The 35-strong field at Fancourt features last season’s European Tour winners plus active golfers who are under 50 and have at least 10 career victories.

Olazabal almost won a car when he lipped out for a hole-in-one at the short 17th, but the 45-year-old, who is down at No. 596 in the world rankings, was nevertheless pleased to show the sort of form that won him two US Masters in his heyday.

“The last couple of years I’ve played pretty poorly so improving on that was not all that difficult,” the Spaniard told reporters.

Grace, 23, said last week’s Joburg Open triumph had given him “a real calm” on the course.

“It’s great to keep the nerves down and just go out there and play golf,” he said. “I’m just sticking to my game plan and minding my own business.”

Englishman Slattery’s eight-under-65 was the round of the day, an effort he said he would never forget.

Overnight leader Nicolas Colsaerts followed his course-record 64 in the opening round with a disappointing 76. The Belgian was among a group of seven players on 140 that included double US Open champion Retief Goosen and 2010 British Open winner Louis Oosthuizen.

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