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Rory McIroy, Luke Donald and Marc Warren lead DP World Tour Championship

McIlroy v Donald battle still on as Warren joins big two at top of Dubai leaderboard

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UPDATED:

14:22 GMT, 23 November 2012

There's some storm brewing here in the desert with Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald disputing the halfway lead with Marc Warren in the DP World Tour Championship.

McIlroy defied an overnight bout of sickness to post a 67 for an 11-under-par total of 133.

Ten minutes later, Donald struck a trademark nine iron to 4ft for a birdie at the last to tie the world No 1.

Share the joy: Rory McIroy is in a three-way tie at the top of the leaderboard

Share the joy: Rory McIroy is in a three-way tie at the top of the leaderboard

DP World Tour Championship

Click here for the full leaderboard

Then Warren tapped in for a par to make this season finale an England-Scotland-Northern Ireland affair at the top after 36 holes.

Next come the South Africans Branden Grace and former Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen.

How easy it would have been for McIlroy to come here and take his foot off the pedal, with the Race to Dubai already sewn up, but no-one got to be the world's best player thinking like that.

Indeed, McIlroy handed out a warning to everyone else seeking to deny him making it a notable double here on Sunday.

'I came here as motivated as I have been all season and I am determined to end the season with a bang and win here in the desert,' he said.

There didn't appear much chance of that when he looked like he was coming down with a sickness bug on Thursday night.

A cup of lemon tea from girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki and a couple of pills, however, and he was feeling much better on Friday.

Where he wants to be: Luke Donald has a share of the lead at the DP World Tour Championship

Where he wants to be: Luke Donald has a share of the lead at the DP World Tour Championship

Driving the ball imperiously, he gave himself a host of chances in another accomplished round.

'I feel this course gives me a good advantage if I'm driving it well because I can clear a lot of the fairway bunkers,' he explained.

'I missed a couple of short putts on the front nine but I've got to be happy tied for the lead going into the weekend.'

Like McIlroy, Donald has just two rounds of his season left to play and enters the final 36 holes with the same focus.

Winner last week in Japan, Donald said: 'I've got 36 holes to go and I really want to sign off with a victory.'

Donald doesn't have the length off the tee that gives McIlroy his advantage but counters that very handily with iron shots like the beauty he played at the last.

As for Warren, he had a golden opportunity to win the Scottish Open on home soil in July and is intent on showing what he has learned from that experience, when he was two ahead with three to play only to lose out in a sudden death play-off to Indian Jeev Milkha Singh.

Making a splash: Marc Warren is on 11 under after a 65 on Friday at the Earth Course

Making a splash: Marc Warren is on 11 under after a 65 on Friday at the Earth Course

All those nervous hopefuls preparing to take part on Saturday in that nerve-wracking experience known as the European Tour's Qualifying School can take great heart from the sight of South African Grace so high up the leaderboard. This time last year, he was one of them.

'It's one of those hard weeks where you don't care if you win it or finish 30th, as long as you secure your card for next year, so good luck to all the guys,' he said.

As it happens, Grace finished 11th before embarking on a season that, as he puts it, is 'beyond a dream.'

Not only has the 24-year-old won no fewer than four times, he is in a great position in this event going into the weekend, and will play with Donald on Saturday.

'I guess you could come here with the attitude of freewheeling and enjoying it but I came here with a couple of goals for the last event and I'm determined to pull them off,' he said.

In contention: South African Branden Grace is just one shot off the leaders

In contention: South African Branden Grace is just one shot off the leaders

'Obviously I can't win the Race to Dubai as Rory has already done that but I could finish second and I want to try for that.

'Then there's obviously lots of world ranking points at stake and I want to push for as many of those as I can.'

No question about the most remarkable round of the day. Sergio Garcia had nine birdies and two eagles on his card, which was just the amount of gains he needed to shoot the European Tour's first-ever round of 59.

Even with a couple of tees pushed forward, what a remarkable achievement that would have been on a course measuring around 7,400 yards.

Up and down: Sergio Garcia had an eventful day as he fired a 64 in his second round

Up and down: Sergio Garcia had an eventful day as he fired a 64 in his second round

Alas for the gifted Spaniard, there were not only a couple of bogeys coming home but a potentially very costly triple at the 16th that leaves him four adrift of the leaders.

'I don't think I have ever had a roller-coaster round quite like that, with so much going on during the back nine,' said Garcia, who eventually signed for a 64 that tied the course record.

The 32-year-old is playing for just the second time since having laser eye surgery and certainly had his eye in on Friday.

There are plenty of gifted shot-makers lurking just off the lead, like former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel on nine under and Justin Rose and Nicolas Colsaerts on eight.

Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, however, are a distant eight and nine shots adrift after rounds of 74 and 70 respectively.

Branden Grace wins Dunhill Links at St Andrews

Glory for Grace as in-form South African claims Dunhill title with course record

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UPDATED:

17:50 GMT, 7 October 2012

South Africa's Branden Grace won for the fifth time this year, capturing the Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews by two shots from Dane Thorbjorn Olesen.

He began the week with a European Tour record-equalling 60 at Kingsbarns – the 3million pro-celebrity event is staged over three courses – and was never overtaken after that, finishing with a tournament record-equalling 22-under-par total and a first prize of 491,000.

Pure delight: Branden Grace maintained his good form by securing the Dunhill Links title at St Andrews

Pure delight: Branden Grace maintained his good form by securing the Dunhill Links title at St Andrews

Grace, who has risen from outside the world's top 300 to inside the top 40, said: 'It feels awesome.'

But if starting the final round with a four-stroke lead and ending it two ahead of Olesen sounds a comfortable day's work, then think again.

Bridge the gap: South African Grace

Bridge the gap: South African Grace

After the Pretoria golfer dropped a shot on the seventh, Olesen birdied the next two and when Grace three-putted the short 11th for another bogey they were level.

It was then, however, that he showed the class that had already brought him the Joburg Open, Volvo Champions, China Open and, on his home circuit last Sunday, the Origins of Golf titles in 2012.

Grace birdied the following three holes from 10, 12 and 14 feet and when Olesen bogeyed the next, the gap was back to four. Even then it was not a cruise to the line.

Olesen birdied the 16th and he bogeyed the Road Hole 17th, but when Olesen came up a fraction short with his eagle attempt through the Valley of Sin on the last, Grace had two putts for victory from four feet – and needed only one of them.

It made him the first wire-to-wire winner of the Tour season, but was the second time he has won back-to-back.

Like Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, Grace is a product of the Ernie Els Foundation and the current Open champion has already tipped him to be another major champion.

Winning at the Home of Golf, as Oosthuizen did in the 2010 Open, will do for the time being, though.

'I've really dreamt of this moment my whole life,' he said. 'I had goosebumps thinking this morning about Louis and the possibility of holding a trophy here myself.

'It was a tough day, but the putter started working and that's all I needed to do.'

Clearing the way: Grace hit the front early on in the tournament and never looked back

Clearing the way: Grace hit the front early on in the tournament and never looked back

Grace's caddie Zack Rasego was on Oosthuizen's bag two years ago and, after asking him to start reading the lines with him on the back nine, he took control again.

Using a new driver after his usual one cracked last week, Grace shot a closing 70, while Olesen's 68 left him two ahead of Swede Alex Noren.

Scot Stephen Gallacher, whose only Tour victory in nearly 400 starts came in the event eight years ago, finished in a seven-way tie for fifth after running up a quadruple-bogey eight at the 16th.

The 37-year-old, lying fourth on his own at the time, went to what he thought was his drive and hit it, only to discover it was actually the ball of Danny Willett's amateur partner Steve Halsall.

Almost great Dane: Thorbjorn Olesen came home in second after a spirited fightback

Almost great Dane: Thorbjorn Olesen came home in second after a spirited fightback

It cost Gallacher a two-stroke penalty and his was then found in the left-hand rough.

'It never even crossed my mind because he was looking 50 yards further up. Obviously I'm a bit disappointed, but what can you do'

He also incurred a penalty in Thursday's opening round when, in taking a practice swing, he clipped a divot and it hit his ball.

Dunhill Links Championship: Brenden Grace praised by Ernie Els after taking four shot lead

Els tips Grace to win The Open as South African takes four shot lead into final round of Dunhill Links

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UPDATED:

17:08 GMT, 6 October 2012

Ernie Els has lavished praise on fellow South African Branden Grace ahead of the final round of the Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews.

Grace will take a four-stroke advantage over Dane Thorbjorn Olesen into the closing 18 holes after a three-under-par 69 at Carnoustie – much the toughest of the three courses used for the celebrity pro-am – lifted him to 20 under.

'He's good enough to win an Open – he's that good,' Els, the current Claret Jug holder, said as the 24-year-old continued to dominate an event he has led since his opening 60 at Kingsbarns on Thursday.

Out in front: Branden Grace will take a four shot lead into the final round

Out in front: Branden Grace will take a four shot lead into the final round

Even with a 65 at St Andrews Els is 12 shots adrift, but seeing another product of his Foundation blossom so spectacularly this season fills him with pride.

Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel have already won majors, and since coming through his fifth visit to the European Tour qualifying school last December, Grace has won four times and leapt inside the world's top 50 from outside the top 300.

'I remember winning the (2007) South African Open and he was top amateur,' said Els, who lost to him in a play-off for the Volvo Champions title in January.

'He's always been a quality player and he's a world contender now.'

In good form: Grace has been praised by Ernie Els

In good form: Grace has been praised by Ernie Els

He finds it no surprise that the Pretoria golfer is excelling this particular week.

'His game is so suited for links golf – he hits those low bullet drives and he can really putt,' Els said.

Grace did not have everything go his way in the third round. After a hat-trick of birdies he double-bogeyed the 472-yard 15th, but as he picked up another shot on the last Olesen double-bogeyed the 17th at Kingsbarns.

Swedes Fredrik Andersson and Alex Noren are in third spot, while Scot Stephen Gallacher, whose only Tour victory in nearly 400 starts came in this event eight years ago, produced a spectacular finish to be in the group on 14 under.

Praising his countryman: Els says Grace is good enough to win The Open

Praising his countryman: Els says Grace is good enough to win The Open

Gallacher sank a 'totally blind' 200-yard five-iron for an eagle two at Kingsbarns' 17th and then birdied the last for a 65.

Two of the three returning Ryder Cup players made the cut, but it will disappoint locals that the one to miss out was Paul Lawrie.

A 68 for three under at St Andrews was never likely to be enough for him – “I putted like an idiot,' he said afterwards – but Martin Kaymer's 69 took him to six under and Peter Hanson matched that round to squeeze through on five under.

Although Jose Maria Olazabal's four assistants – Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn and Miguel Angel Jimenez – all failed to make it, lone American Dustin Johnson, winner of all his three games in the Chicago defeat, is alongside Kaymer thanks to a 67.

Grace said: 'I didn't play particularly well. There were loose shots here and there, but this course mentally does it to you.

'I kept fighting, got it around and finishing with a birdie is a bonus.

'Everybody calls it 'Car-nasty' (a name given during the 1999 Open when the rough was some of the worst ever and a 19-year-old Sergio Garcia finished last on 30 over) and it showed you still have to hit good shots.

'I've dreamt of picking any trophy up on that bridge on the 18th (at St Andrews), so maybe this time tomorrow it happens.'

Branden Grace extends lead at Dunhill Links Championship

In-form Grace misses out on record but extends lead at Dunhill Links

PUBLISHED:

17:58 GMT, 5 October 2012

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UPDATED:

17:58 GMT, 5 October 2012

Branden Grace holds the biggest
halfway lead of the European Tour season after a second-round 67 in the
Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews.

Having begun the 3million
pro-celebrity event with an incredible Tour record-equalling 60 at
Kingsbarns, the 24-year-old South African marched five strokes clear by
reaching 17 under par at halfway.

Centre of attention: Branden Grace of South Africa

Centre of attention: Branden Grace of South Africa

When he putted for eagle on the 357-yard last Grace had a chance to match the circuit's lowest-ever 36-hole total in relation to par, but he happily settled for a two-putt birdie and so the mark set by compatriot Ernie Els at the 2004 Heineken Classic in Australia still stands.

'I just don't really knows what's going on,' said the Pretoria golfer, who was outside the world's top 300 less than a year ago, came through the Tour qualifying school and now has a chance of an incredible fifth victory of the season.

The fourth came last Sunday in his home country's winter series and was slightly overshadowed, of course, by Europe's miraculous Ryder Cup comeback.

'A win is a win,' he added. 'It gives you confidence and puts a fire in you. I'm still just running with it.'

Dane Thorbjorn Olesen and Swede Joel Sjoholm are in joint second place and you have to look a long way way down the leaderboard to find many of the big names.

Holding on: Ryder Cup hero Martin Kaymer

Holding on: Ryder Cup hero Martin Kaymer

German Martin Kaymer, the man who sank the all-important putt for Jose Maria Olazabal's side in Chicago, is doing best of the three returning heroes, but he is down in 56th place on three under – 14 strokes adrift.

Swede Peter Hanson is one further back, but Paul Lawrie is joint 129th on one over – and only the top 60 and ties survive the cut after tomorrow's third round.

The one thing in their favour is that they still have St Andrews to play whereas Grace has Carnoustie to come and that is by far the stiffest test of the three.

Also in a fight to stay around for Sunday's closing 18 holes at St Andrews are Open champion Ernie Els on one under, twice winner Padraig Harrington on level par and last year's Open winner Darren Clarke, who is alongside Lawrie.

The Scot is playing with his 17-year-old son Craig and did not mind admitting that the scratch-handicapper outscored him in the second round, albeit off forward tees.

'He played lovely and was four under on his own ball – I'm very proud of him,' said the 1999 Open champion, who had to be content with a two under 70 himself.

Here boy: Paul Casey tries to get the dog to drop his ball on the green

Here boy: Paul Casey tries to get the dog to drop his ball on the green

Paul Casey is another on three under, but the former world number three will remember the day for two unusual incidents – a dog running off with his ball and swimming star Michael Phelps holing a 50-yard putt.

Casey was on the green in two at Kingsbarns' long 12th – his third – when the dog took the ball 'off up the hill toward the 13th tee'.

He added: 'I had that moment of panic where I thought I'd have to play it where Digby – he had his name on his collar – left it, but we placed it back as close as we could to where we thought it originally was.'

Grace had no such dramas, but was glad the format allowed him to switch courses following his 60.

'It would have been a hard situation if I had to play Kingsbarns again after shooting lights out. Getting to St Andrews I didn't know what to expect.

'I struggling a bit in the beginning, but then my putter started getting hot again.'

He had four successive birdies around the turn.

Sjoholm matched the round, while over at Carnoustie Olesen had six birdies and three bogeys for a 69.

Leading British player is Graeme Storm, round in 66 at the Home of Golf to reach 10 under and joint fifth place.

German Martin Kaymer, the man who sank the all-important putt for Jose Maria Olazabal's side in Chicago, is doing best of the three returning heroes, but he is down in 56th place on three under – 14 strokes adrift.

Swede Peter Hanson is one further back, but Paul Lawrie is joint 129th on one over – and only the top 60 and ties survive the cut after tomorrow's third round.

The one thing in their favour is that they still have St Andrews to play whereas Grace has Carnoustie to come and that is by far the stiffest test of the three.

Also in a fight to stay around for Sunday's closing 18 holes at St Andrews are Open champion Ernie Els on one under, twice winner Padraig Harrington on level par and last year's Open winner Darren Clarke, who is alongside Lawrie.

The Scot is playing with his 17-year-old son Craig and did not mind admitting that the scratch-handicapper outscored him in the second round, albeit off forward tees.

'He played lovely and was four under on his own ball – I'm very proud of him,' said the 1999 Open champion, who had to be content with a two under 70 himself.

Paul Casey is another on three under, but the former world number three will remember the day for two unusual incidents – a dog running off with his ball and swimming star Michael Phelps holing a 50-yard putt.

Casey was on the green in two at Kingsbarns' long 12th – his third – when the dog took the ball 'off up the hill toward the 13th tee'.

He added: 'I had that moment of panic where I thought I'd have to play it where Digby – he had his name on his collar – left it, but we placed it back as close as we could to where we thought it originally was.'

Grace had no such dramas, but was glad the format allowed him to switch courses following his 60.

'It would have been a hard situation if I had to play Kingsbarns again after shooting lights out. Getting to St Andrews I didn't know what to expect.

'I struggling a bit in the beginning, but then my putter started getting hot again.'

He had four successive birdies around the turn.

Sjoholm matched the round, while over at Carnoustie Olesen had six birdies and three bogeys for a 69.

Leading British player is Graeme Storm, round in 66 at the Home of Golf to reach 10 under and joint fifth place.

Paul Casey loses ball to dog at Dunhill Links

Casey finds trouble at dogleg 12th as FORE-legged friend pinches ball off green

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UPDATED:

14:28 GMT, 5 October 2012

Paul Casey found himself unable to play on for a while in the Dunhill Links Championship after a dog came on to a green and had some fun with his ball.

The incident came on the 12th hole at Kingsbarns as Casey continued his partnership in the celebrity pro-am with Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps.

Here boy: Paul Casey tries to get the dog to drop his ball on the green

Here boy: Paul Casey tries to get the dog to drop his ball on the green

And he's off: The dog takes Casey's ball for a little run

And he's off: The dog takes Casey's ball for a little run

Eventually the dog, named on Twitter as Digby, decided to move on and the former world No 3, on in two at the par five, two-putted for a birdie that lifted him to one under par.

That was, however, still 11 adrift of South African Branden Grace, who equalled the European Tour record on Thursday with a 12-under-par 60 on the course.

Mugshot: The Dunhill Links Twitter page posted a picture of Digby

Mugshot: The Dunhill Links Twitter page posted a picture of Digby

Grace, switching to St Andrews for his second round, was among the later starters, but his lead remained two as France's Victor Dubuisson – round in a course-record 62 at the Home of Golf – covered his first five holes at Carnoustie in level par.

One shot further back were Dane Thorbjorn Olesen and Spain's Pablo Martin, who birdied the first four holes of Carnoustie's back nine.

Bored now: The dog eventually releases Casey's ball after having a play

Bored now: The dog eventually releases Casey's ball after having a play

It's a bit wet: Casey has a look to see what condition is ball is in

It's a bit wet: Casey has a look to see what condition is ball is in

Branden Grace wins Joburg Open

Amazing Grace denies Englishman Elson stunning victory to clinch Joburg Open

South African's Branden Grace carded a level-par 72 in his final round to win the Joburg Open and deny Jamie Elson what would have been a remarkable triumph.

Englishman Elson finished with a stunning nine-under-par 63 which gave him the clubhouse lead for much of the afternoon.

But his wait for a mistake from Grace proved in vain as the local player calmly parred his way to victory on Royal Johannesburg and Kensington's East Course.

Amazing Grace: South Africa's Branden Grace holds the trophy after winning the Joburg Open golf tournament at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club in South Africa

Amazing Grace: South Africa's Branden Grace holds the trophy after winning the Joburg Open golf tournament at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club in South Africa

Grace, the joint overnight leader following a rain-shortened third day, ended up finishing the tournament on 17 under par, a shot clear of Elson and three in front of a group of six players on 14 under.

They were Scottish duo David Drysdale and Marc Warren, and South Africans Jaco Van Zyl, Trevor Fisher Jnr, Dawie Van der Walt and Michiel Bothma.

A victorious Grace said after claiming his maiden European Tour title he said: 'This is a dream come true, it's nice to win in front of my home crowd, I wouldn't change it for anything else.'

Grace was tied for the lead yesterday on 15 under with England's Richard Finch when the day's play was suspended by heavy storms.

The 23-year-old from Pretoria birdied the final two holes of his third round this morning to move to 17 under, building a three-shot lead over nearest challengers Finch and South African George Coetzee heading into the final round.

Best shot: Englishman Jamie Elson hit a stunning nine-under par final round

Best shot: Englishman Jamie Elson hit a stunning nine-under par final round

Finch had been in contention for the opening three days but he had a Sunday to forget after completing his third round with a bogey five on the 17th before then falling away badly in his final round when he shot a six-over-par 78 to finish on eight under.

In contrast Grace was a picture of consistency in his fourth round, playing out 16 holes to par, dropping a shot on the second before downing a birdie on the ninth.

That proved enough for victory as Elson, who holed a 40-foot birdie putt on the final green of the European Tour's qualifying school at the end of last year to secure his card, could only sit and watch from the clubhouse having done he all he could to put himself in contention earlier on.

Proud as punch: Grace celebrates his superb win in front of his home fans

Proud as punch: Grace celebrates his superb win in front of his home fans

Elson's brilliant round included six birdies on the opening nine holes to reach the turn in 31 and he added another birdie on the 16th before completing a magnificent day with an eagle three on the 18th.

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That left the 30-year-old Elson, who shared the opening-day lead after starting with an eight-under-par 63 on the West Course, on 16 under but he had to settle for runners-up spot as Grace played out his final nine holes for par.

Grace said: 'It was pretty tough out there today. I must say I actually played really nicely, I think I hit the ball superb, and then my putter was just cold, I couldn't get the speed of the greens going today, but fortunately at the end of the day it was enough.'

Joburg Open: Robert Rock leads after two rounds

Robert Rocks Joburg Open to take slender one-shot lead into third round

Robert Rock shot a second-round 67 to move into the lead at the Joburg Open at the end of round two.

The 34-year-old from Staffordshire, playing on the West course, is 11 under par for the tournament after posting an eagle and four birdies, with the only blemishes being bogies on the eighth and 12th holes.

Rock, chasing a second professional win, signed his card a shot clear of home duo Jbe Kruger and Branden Grace, who both went round the West course in 66, adding to their 67s on Thursday.

Swing the zone: Rock leads the Joburg Open heading into round three

Swing the zone: Rock leads the Joburg Open heading into round three

Joburg Open

Click here for the leaderboard

Overnight leaders Damien McGrane and Jamie Elston were still waiting to start their second round by the time the leaders returned to the clubhouse, while a four-under 67 on the West from Scotland's Scott Jamieson left him three shots adrift of Rock.

South African Michiel Bothma joined his compatriots in jostling for position at the top of the leaderboard, with a five-under 66 leaving him a two shots behind Rock.

Scotland's David Drysdale was also handily placed, reaching the midway point of his round on the East course on seven under for the tournament.

Defending champ: Charl Schwartzel leaves the 18th green tied on 56th

Defending champ: Charl Schwartzel leaves the 18th green tied on 56th