Grace survives gusts to lead Coca-Cola

Branden Grace at the 2010 Coca-Cola Championship.

GEORGE, South Africa – Branden Grace can see the proverbial promised land.

The four-year pro extended his lead Wednesday heading into the final round of the Coca-Cola Championship, despite heavy crosswinds that are confounding players at the Fancourt Hotel and Golf Estate. If Grace can hang on, he’ll have his first professional title.

Grace managed to minimize his mistakes, and posted three birdies and two bogeys to fire a 1-under 71 in the second round.

“It was really tough out there,” said Grace, who has recorded 11 top-10s since 2008. “It was so hard to judge distances and to choose the right clubs.”

He was only one of two players with under-par rounds; George Coetzee shot 69.

Grace made a crucial save on the par-5 18th when he got up-and down for par after his second shot blew into the water, left of the green.

At 5-under, he is the solo leader, aiming for victory on a course he grew up playing.

“It would be really special,” he said. “I love playing Fancourt. . . plus I will have a lot of friends and family here tomorrow to support me so it would be nice for me and for them.”

Grace holds a two-shot lead over Justin Walters, who is at 3-under after firing a 72. Coetzee and Darren Fichardt are tied for third at 2-under.

Joint overnight leader Josh Cunliffe has a chance to secure his maiden title but has some work to do after posting a 3-over 75, putting him back in fifth along with Tjaart van der Walt, Chris Swanepoel and Jake Roos.

Sunshine Tour contributed to this report.

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