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Grace Cruising Along in Dunhill Championship


Branden Grace posted a 69 at Carnoustie to maintain his lead in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland. The European Tour event began Thursday and involves rotating play on the courses at Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and the Old Course at St. Andrews. The Old Course will be the exclusive site of Sunday's final round.

Grace, a 24-year-old South African, carded six birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey on the par-4 15th to reach 20-under 196, four shots ahead of Denmark's Throbjorn Olesen (68 at Kingsbarns) and five ahead of two Swedes, Alexander Noren (65 at Kingsbarns) and Fredrik Hed Andersson (66 at Kingsbarns).

Grace and the 22-year-old Olesen will be paired in the final round. "I think the way I'm playing, you never know what's going to happen on the day," said Grace. "I think if I keep hitting the ball like I am and make the putts like I am then anything is possible.

"Thorbjorn is one hell of a player and he's shown in the past that he can play with the big names as well and he's not going to fall under pressure. Everything depends on the weather. If we have a great day tomorrow, it's going to be a low scoring round, and if the weather turns bad on us and the wind starts blowing, you'll never know what St Andrews has got for us.

"I've dreamed of picking up a trophy on that bridge on the 18th, so maybe this time tomorrow, it may happen," added Grace, who's seeking his fourth win in Europe.

"I shot 4-under-par, which is a good score, but I am disappointed," said Olesen. "It could easily have been minus six or seven today. Branden is at 20-under. He's a great player, but I'm going to do my best. I am looking forward to getting to St. Andrews tomorrow. I find the greens at St. Andrews easy to read. I had a tough time today reading the greens."

With 18 holes to go, American businessman Hugh Connerty and Thai professional Thongchai Jaidee lead the Team Championship at 33-under after a team score of 60 at Kingsbarns. They are five shots ahead of Noren and Ernesto Bertarelli, the man behind the America's Cup winning team Alinghi. Two shots further back are professional Ashely Hall and South African property developer Gary Hackner.

Olympians Michael Phelps, who played with Paul Casey, and Oscar Pistorius (Paul McGinley) both missed the cut in the Team Championship, but Phelps made a shot Friday he'll never forget.

The 18-time gold-medal winner sank an amazing 53-yard putt in the second round at Kingsbarns. "I will never forget it," Phelps said. "I just tried to get it to the top of the rise in the green and I couldn't believe it when it then ran down the other side and all the way into the hole. I just had to give a bit of a Tiger-esque fist pump!"

For all the scores, visit http://www.europeantour.com/europeantour/season=2012/tournamentid=2012074/leaderboard/index.html?showLeaderboard=Y.