Grace under pressure as Branden gets US Open top-10 finish

Jun 21, 2021 | Featured, South Africans abroad

In the aftermath of the dramatic conclusion to the 121st US Open Championship at the weekend, it was easy to overlook the quality of Branden Grace’s performance as he finished seventh for his third top-10 in the tournament.

Grace, in what was eventually a masterful display of how to play Torrey Pines, closed with a bogey-free four-under-par 67, matching the low round of the day posted by champion Jon Rahm of Spain and Patrick Reed of the United States.

“I thought I played really well the whole week,” said Grace. “The first three days I struggled with the putter, just didn’t get my lines, and I did a little bit of work yesterday afternoon and managed to get it today. Today I made those momentum putts when I needed to and it kept the round going, whereas the last couple of days I didn’t. All in all, I’m very pleased.”

From having to endure what is dubbed ‘golf’s longest day’ – the US Open Qualifiers – just over a week back to finishing inside the top 10 certainly underlined the way he has been ramping up his game after a lean period. With a PGA Tour win under his belt, and this finish in the US Open, he is clearly back in business. “All in all, it was great,” he said. “It was nice to be back, nice to have the crowds back, and it was just a great week. The golf is trending in the right direction, and I’m excited.”

While Grace didn’t hit many of the fairways in the final round – not many people did – the rest of his game was on point. He hit 13 of 18 greens in regulation and had 27 putts to lead the field in strokes gained putting as he picked up 3.85 strokes on the field in the final round.

In the end, he shared seventh with Americans Daniel Berger, Xander Schauffele and Scottie Scheffler, and with Rory McIlroy and Paul Casey.

Next best of the South Africans was Charl Schwartzel, who fought his way to his first under-par round of the week with his 70 and a share of 19th. Christiaan Bezuidenhout had his problems on his way to his closing five-over 76 which put him in a share of 31st.

Dylan Frittelli finished the week in a share of 46th, while Wilco Nienaber matched his best round of the week with a one-over 72 to finish 68th.

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