Golf: Grace ace puts South African in early Phoenix lead

 Branden Grace speaks with his caddie on the 11th tee during the second round.
Branden Grace speaks with his caddie on the 11th tee during the second round.PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Branden Grace's two eagles included a hole-in-one and were more than enough to offset a double-bogey as the South African seized the early second-round lead at the US PGA Tour Phoenix Open on Friday (Feb 1).

After making his first birdie of the day at the par-five third, Grace holed his eight-iron tee shot from 194 yards at the par-three seventh.

It was his third career hole-in-one and his first on the US tour.

Grace, playing in Phoenix for the first time, picked up another birdie at the 10th before he found the water on the way to a double-bogey six at the 11th.

That didn't slow Grace for long. He chipped in for eagle at the par-five 13th, then reeled off three straight birdies at 15, 16 and 17 on the way to a seven-under par 64 and the clubhouse lead on 11-under 131.

Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler, who shared the overnight lead with Harold Varner, were just teeing off as Grace completed his round.

Thomas opened with a birdie and Fowler birdied the second hole to put them at eight-under for the tournament.

Varner, meanwhile, was unable to build on his first-round 64, firing an even par 71.

Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson was Grace's nearest rival in the clubhouse. The American had six birdies in a four-under par 67 that put him on nine-under 133 through 36 holes.