Golf: Els rates Dunhill leader Grace as future Open winner

British Open champion Ernie Els of South Africa. Photo / AP
British Open champion Ernie Els of South Africa. Photo / AP

Reigning British Open champion Ernie Els predicts compatriot Branden Grace, the leader by four shots in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, to one day join him in capturing golf's oldest major.

Grace, 24, continued his domination of the Scottish event adding a third-round 69 at Carnoustie yesterday to move to 20-under in the US$5 million event.

He heads to the final round, and the chance of securing the $800,000 first prize, four clear of Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen, who carded a 68 to move to 16-under.

US Ryder Cup player Dustin Johnson recorded a 67 on the Old Course at St Andrews to move to six-under and tied in 43rd place with Ryder Cup winner Martin Kaymer, who added a 69 also at St Andrews.

Another European Ryder Cup team member, Sweden's Peter Hanson, carded a 69 for a five-under tally but missing the five-under cut was teammate Paul Lawrie (68) at three under.

Also missing the cut was defending champion Michael Hoey of Northern Ireland who signed for a third round 72 for a two-under tally.

Grace set the European Tour alight this year in winning three events in 11 appearances and arrived in Scotland after having captured a Sunshine Tour last week in Fancourt.

And Grace's efforts this year have been so amazing Els had no hesitation in declaring he could win the Open Championship which Els won in 2002 and again this year at Royal Lytham and St Annes.

"His game is so good Branden could well enough win an Open Championship," said Els.

The current world No 49 is a graduate from the Ernie Els Foundation which the four-time major winner established in 1999 to help assist talented South African golfers.

Els got his first real sight of Grace's prowess in capturing the 2007 South African Open at Port Elizabeth.

"Branden has always been a quality player, and he's really come on now," said Els.

Top scores

196: Branden Grace (SA) 60 67 69
200: Thorbjorn Olesen (DEN) 63 69 68
201: Alexander Noren (SWE) 64 72 65, Fredrik Andersson Hed (Swe) 64 71 66

Also
211: Michael Campbell (NZL) 67 71 73.

- AAP

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