Chris Paisley Leads BMW SA Open After 54 Holes

Chris Paisley is 18 holes away from his first European Tour title.

But can he hold off a hard-charging Branden Grace on the latter’s home turf to do it?

Paisley shot a 70 on Saturday to reach 15-under, good for the lead at the BMW SA Open in Gauteng.

“Being tied for the lead isn’t a position I’ve been in a lot,” Paisley said. “I’m really proud with how I’ve played, I felt really calm and never really felt stressed.

“Obviously playing with Gracie (in the final round), who’s won God knows how many times on Tour and obviously is a great player, and in his home country. I’m sure the crowd is going to be on his side. I’m just really excited about it.”

Grace, an 8-time European Tour winner who has won the championship here twice, fired a 6-under 66 to reach 14-under for the tournament.

“I’m looking forward to tomorrow big-time,” Grace said. ” I’ve played myself right back into it and I’m really excited going into tomorrow. It will be a big advantage to have that support tomorrow.”

France’s Adrien Saddier fell out of the lead and then some with a 1-over 73 to drop back to 12-under. He’s tied there with American rookie Chase Koepka and South Africa’s Jacques Blaauw.

Another South African, Darren Fichardt, shot the low round of the day – a 64 – to sit at 11-under in sixth place.

After piling up 15 birdies in his first two rounds, Paisley managed just three on Saturday, along with just his third bogey of the tournament.

Grace was just 1-under at the turn, then knocked in five birdies between holes 11 and 17 to make his push.

Saddier looked like a completely different player. He was 7-under on the back nine in the first two rounds combined, then an unimpressive 1-over on Saturday.

Tour rookie Koepka fired a 4-under 68.

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