Golf

Grace looks to cap breakout season

Branden Grace
Branden Grace has won four times on the European Tour this year.
Share This Story

   
 

JOHANNESBURG (AP)

After winning four times in his breakthrough season on the European Tour, South Africa's Branden Grace can cap it with a title he prizes above all: his home country's national open.

FIVE THINGS

Rain forced officials to scramble to finish the Singapore Open. So, naturally, it needed a playoff, too.

Scotland's Richie Ramsay is the only international player to win the historic South African Open in the past decade, making home players Grace, former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and defending champion Hennie Otto early favorites for victory at Serengeti this weekend.

Grace won at the Joburg Open, Volvo Golf Champions, China Open and Alfred Dunhill Links to put him sixth in the tour's Race to Dubai rankings in his first season since winning back his card.

The South African Open is the second oldest tournament in golf (1893) after the British Open (1860). A victory for Grace would put him alongside Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and South African greats Gary Player and Bobby Locke.

''I've really been looking forward to this. If you're a South African golfer, this is the one tournament you want to win,'' Grace said.

Germany's Martin Kaymer makes his first attempt at the Open title and what would be a first tournament victory this year. It would be something to go with the 8-foot putt that retained the Ryder Cup for Europe and has so far defined his season.

EARMUFFS

Coach Matt Mahanic is fired after a profanity-laced tirade. See his meltdown at Yardbarker. Warning: The video is full of foul language.

''Obviously it's a great thing that I can keep that for the rest of my life,'' Kaymer said of the putt at Medinah. ''Even when I watched it two weeks later, obviously, I knew what was going to happen, but I was never nervous watching it. I can only imagine how it was for the guys who had no idea, who were just watching it live.''

Kaymer — once the second-youngest player to be No. 1, before Rory McIlroy — was impressed with the Northern Irishman's year.

''It's quite impressive how Rory handles the whole situation at 23 years old. It takes some time to get used to the thought that you are quite a big athlete in the world, quite a big sportsman,'' Kaymer said. ''It's just something that you can be very, very proud of.''

While Kaymer talked of the ''rare'' excitement he had experienced from fans in South Africa, Grace was curious about the reception he will receive this week after emerging as the latest in a bunch of South African youngsters.

It'll likely be a warm welcome.

McIlroy undoubtedly reigned in 2012, winning the US and European money titles, but Grace gained some attention in Europe with an opening-round 60 at the Dunhill Links last month to lead from start to finish.

With the South African Open and then the season-ending World Tour Championship in Dubai to come, Grace has a chance at more titles and a top-five finish or better on Europe's money list.

All after he lost his tour card at the end of 2009 and went back to qualifying school.

''Over the last couple of years, I've felt that I've played good golf, but never really got the push out of it. I never really got where I wanted to be,'' he said. ''Obviously, this year has been a dream year so far and going back home, I hope I get rewarded for what I've done.''

Grace may vie with Schwartzel and Otto for the title on Sunday and the $201,000 winner's check. There's also no Els, Goosen or Louis Oosthuizen at the 102nd South African Open.

Tagged: Branden Grace, Rory McIlroy, Gary Player, Martin Kaymer

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



GOLF Videos

Can Tiger Woods recapture British Open magic Posted: Jul 14, 2014
Robert Lusetich looks back at Tiger Woods' past and ahead to his future at the B...

Will Mickelson win the British Open again? Posted: Jul 14, 2014
FOX Sports 1 golf analyst Robert Lusetich discusses Phil Mickelson's chances of ...

Mickelson looks to hit his stride Posted: Jul 14, 2014
Phil Mickelson discusses his up-and-down 2014 season.

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store