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South Africa's Grace wins 1st European Tour title

Branden Grace from South Africa hits an approach shot during the first round of the Australian Masters golf tournament at Kingston Heath Golf Club, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009. Grace is currently equal leader after 18 holes with Tiger Woods from the United States at 6 under par. ( AP Photo/Andrew Brownbill)

By GERALD IMRAY

AP Sports Writer

JOHANNESBURG (AP) South Africa's Branden Grace won his first European Tour title Sunday with a par 72 for a one-shot victory at the Joburg Open.

Grace had a bogey and birdie on the East Course at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club to edge Englishman Jamie Elson, finishing at 17-under 270.

The 23-year-old Grace had his three-shot, third-round lead cut to one when Elson made a 30-foot putt for eagle on No. 18 to finish with a 63. Elson had seven birdies along with his eagle, including six in his first eight holes.

But Grace, one of 27 players to complete his third round in the morning because of rain delays, held on with nine straight pars coming home for his second professional win after a 2010 victory on South Africa's Sunshine Tour.

"I played really nicely, I hit the ball superb I think, and the putter was just cold," Grace said. "I couldn't get the speed of the greens. Fortunately, at the end of the day, it was enough."

Scottish pair David Drysdale (67) and Marc Warren (68) were part of a six-way tie for third. Retief Goosen had a 73 and finished 16th, seven shots behind the leader.

Organizers were forced to play catch-up for most of the tournament after rain and darkness caused the first three rounds to be completed the next day.

Updated January 15, 2012

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