The general consensus before the start of the US Open was that Branden Grace was the best of South Africa’s hopes at the year’s second Major.
HIs performance confirmed the notion and he joined Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel as the standout South African performers.
Below is a piece I did before Grace jetted off to take on Chambers Bay.
It’s often thought that professional golfers have it easy. That life entails 18 holes of golf each day and a lavish lifestyle with the sums of money that follow good performances.
While the rewards make it a lot easier to enjoy life for those in the upper echelons of the world rankings it’s the simple things, like being able to give back or spend some time at home, that make it worth while.
For Branden Grace the last three weeks have included both given that he enjoyed time at home after a superb start to the year and also gave back recently by spending time with the children from the First Swing Program, a development project of the South African Disabled Golf Association.
“It’s nice. We very seldom get the chance to come back to South Africa and just to spend time with family and friends is nice,” Grace said at Centurion Country Club last week where he appeared as an invited participant in the Canon Pro-Am Golf Series.
After two wins on the European Tour, when claiming the Alfred Dunhill Championship and the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, and a Sunshine Tour victory to his credit, Grace has been able to take time off and clear his head before next week’s US Open.
“It’s always nice to have a good start the way that I have this season and come back and enjoy it a little bit. This time it’s been different. When I got home I took two weeks off. It’s nice to not get up knowing you have to stretch, hit balls and prepare. It’s nice to come to days like this and give back a bit,” said Grace.
But if the 27-year-old has his way the winning won’t stop there and he’s already set his eye on producing results on the PGA Tour.
“It gets you off to a great start and a lot of times when you get the first one you want to win more. That’s been the case with me, not just this year but also in 2012 when I managed to get five wins. I really want to to push on.”
Of his fortunes in the States this year, Grace is confident that his game has started to indicate an ability to compete there. So far the world No-40 has achieved two top-10 finishes and has only missed the cut once, at the Masters.
“I think it’s been good. This is the year that I’ve shown I can play well there. I’ve only missed one cut. If you look at previous years I struggled a bit, didn’t really get the top-10s. I’ve had two now and made cuts which has been nice and it shows that things are heading in the right direction.
Grace jetted off to Washington yesterday, hopeful of getting to grips with the tricky layout that is Chambers Bay and hopeful of converting his good early form into a serious challenge in the year’s second Major.
“I think this break has done me the world of good. Three weeks away from the game. It’s always nice to be in a field in the Major and hopefully I’ll be competing. We all want to try win it and if I can be in a position then hopefully I can grab it.”