Branden Grace to keep his main focus on PGA Tour
South African has ticked off a big box by registering breakthrough win in the USA
Branden Grace: “Getting this first victory, I can settle down a bit and forget about just keeping the card.” Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Another one lost to the PGA Tour? Or, at best, to be shared between the two?
If Branden Grace actually hails from South Africa, there is also the undeniable fact that he has been a part of the furniture on the PGA European Tour for the past number of years.
Indeed, he is a seven-time winner on the European circuit and finished third, behind Rory McIlroy and Danny Willett, in last year’s Race to Dubai final standings.
Yet, the Springbok’s impressive win in the RBC Heritage Classic – where he leapfrogged Luke Donald to take a maiden title on the PGA Tour – would seem to firm up exactly where his future playing days primarily lie.
Although intending to retain his European Tour membership as well, Grace – who recently bought a house in Palm Beach, Florida – commented: “Getting this first victory, I can settle down a bit and forget about just keeping the card and that kind of stuff. Now, I’m sorted for a couple of years [on the PGA Tour]. I can really just tick this one off the box and head into the next couple of Majors trying to win, knowing that I have won out here before.”
Grace – in the field for this week’s Valero Texas Open in San Antonio where Jimmy Walker is the defending champion – also revealed he will be heading back to South Africa after next month’s Players Championship to “recharge the batteries” ahead of that tilt for a breakthrough Major at the US Open in June.
“I really want to go back to San Antonio. It’s a course that suits my eye. I’ve planned my schedule really well, and I’m going to try to stick to it,” he said.
Whilst Grace – “I’ve been playing some good golf, but just not finishing golf,” he said of his form before clicking back into winning mode in Hilton Head – headed on to the Texas Open with confidence, the two Irish players in the field will be looking for an upturn in fortunes.
Graeme McDowell has suffered missed cuts in his last two outings, at the Masters and at the RBC Heritage. In actual fact, the Northern Irishman has missed the cut in his last four strokeplay events – missing the weekend in the Valspar and Arnold Palmer Invitational – with that poor run also including the WGC-Dell Matchplay when he failed to emerge from his group.
Pádraig Harrington, meanwhile, resumes tournament play after a two-week break at home. The Dubliner’s last outing was at the Shell Houston Open when he missed the cut for only the second time this season.
Harrington blamed his poor scoring on getting “caught up in technique” after working on his swing in the days leading up to the event with coach Pete Cowen.
The problem was that Harrington felt he couldn’t trust the swing change, which improved his ball flight and distance on that range but which didn’t translate to the course.
The hope is that the extra two weeks to embed the change into his swing will reap dividends in Texas.
An invitePaul Dunne
Dunne and Michael Hoey are the only two Irishmen competing in Shenzen.