In contention at PGA, Grace thrives under major pressure
SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (AP) Growing more comfortable with his game in the United States, Branden Grace simply needs to stay on track for one more round at the PGA Championship to have a shot at winning his first major.
The South African shot an 8-under 64 on Saturday at Whistling Straits, the lowest score of the third round, to move to 12 under for the tournament. He was tied for third with Justin Rose, three shots back of leader Jason Day.
”I think I’m finally getting the hang of America,” said Grace, a regular on the European Tour.
He has looked right at home in his two majors this year on U.S. soil.
Grace was tied for the lead at the U.S. Open in June before hitting an errant tee shot on a reachable 16th hole at Chambers Bay. The ball sailed over a chain-link fence and bounced down an asphalt path before coming to rest against another fence near railroad tracks.
He finished fourth that day but wasn’t a real part of the conversation after making double bogey on 16. The following month, Grace finished 20th at the British Open at St. Andrews.
Both learning experiences for the 27-year-old, who lives in George, South Africa.
”The U.S. Open was a good one coming into (the PGA) and even The Open Championship, just getting the confidence up, knowing that I can do it, can play in this environment and under this pressure,” Grace said.
He was cool on No. 18 on Saturday after his second shot on the par-4 landed in a bunker on a steep incline just below the green.
Walking up the fairway to study his predicament, Grace said he thought to himself ”just get lucky with the lie.”
After striking the ball, he skipped quickly up the bunker to watch his chip shot bounce on the green and roll right to left for one of only nine birdies on a hole that played fourth-toughest on Saturday.
”To finish off like that was spectacular,” Grace said.
He celebrated with a fist pump and an exchange of emphatic high-fives with his caddie – a scene that has a chance to repeat itself Sunday if things go well.