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Grace goes four clear as Olazabal rolls back years

Branden Grace of South Africa watches his tee shot during the second round of the British Open Golf Championship at the Turnberry Golf Club
Branden Grace of South Africa watches his tee shot during the second round of the British Open Golf Championship at the Turnberry Golf Club

By Ken Borland

GEORGE, South Africa (Reuters) - South African Branden Grace stormed into a four-shot lead after the Volvo Golf Champions second round Friday to boost his chances of recording back-to-back European Tour victories.

Grace fired a seven-under 66 for a 12-under total of 134, four ahead of fellow countryman Thomas Aiken (70) and Briton Lee Slattery (65). Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal (68), seeking his first win for seven years, was fourth on 139.

The 35-strong field at Fancourt features last season's European Tour winners plus active golfers who are under 50 and have at least 10 career victories.

Olazabal almost won a car when he lipped out for a hole-in-one at the short 17th but the 45-year-old, who is down at 596th in the world rankings, was nevertheless pleased to show the sort of form that won him two U.S. Masters in his heyday.

"The last couple of years I've played pretty poorly so improving on that was not all that difficult," the Spaniard told reporters.

Grace, 23, said last week's Joburg Open triumph had given him "a real calm" on the course.

"It's great to keep the nerves down and just go out there and play golf," he said. "I've changed my routines a bit, I'm taking my time, sticking to what club I'm going to hit and keeping things as simple as possible.

"I'm just sticking to my game plan and minding my own business."

Englishman Slattery's eight-under 65 was the round of the day, an effort he said he would never forget.

"It was one of those rounds I'm going to remember for the rest of my life and hopefully it can kickstart something for me," said the 33-year-old journeyman professional.

"It's probably the best round of my career. I decided to play the course a bit more aggressively, hit a lot more drivers off the tee and just take on a few more shots."

Overnight leader Nicolas Colsaerts followed his course-record 64 in the opening round with a disappointing 76.

The Belgian was among a group of seven players on 140 that included double U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen and 2010 British Open winner Louis Oosthuizen.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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