January 11, 2018 / 4:20 PM / 10 months ago

Golf: Grace soars to joint top of SA Open leaderboard with eagle rush

Golf - The 146th Open Championship - Royal Birkdale - Southport, Britain - July 23, 2017 South Africa’s Branden Grace reacts on the fourth green during the final round REUTERS/Paul Childs

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African Branden Grace carded three eagles on his way to a seven-under-par 65 for a share of the lead with American Chase Koepka after the first round of the European Tour’s South African Open on Thursday.

Grace, the highest ranked player in the field at number 30 in the world, also recorded three birdies and two bogeys as he attacked the pins, particularly on the front nine.

All his eagles came on par-five holes, the second, eighth and 15th, the last following an excellent 20-foot putt.

Koepka, the younger brother of 2017 U.S. Open champion Brooks, carded an eagle and seven birdies to go with two bogeys.

The pair were one shot ahead of England’s Chris Paisley, who had seven birdies and a bogey in his round of 66.

South African major winners Ernie Els (71), Retief Goosen (69) and Charl Schwartzel (69) all had solid opening rounds, but Trevor Immelman (79) carded five bogeys and a double-bogey on a day to forget for the 2008 U.S. Masters champion.

Defending champion Graeme Storm from England struggled to an opening 75.

The tournament is the second oldest Open championship in the world having first been formally played in 1903.

Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Ed Osmond

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