THE highlight of Branden Grace’s career was winning the 2020 South African Open right here at Randpark with an explosive final round 62 and a 21-under-par 263 total.
But times have been tough since because he went through something of a slump with his golf, dropping to 147th in the world rankings. Then tragedy hit the Grace family hard when Branden lost his father to COVID-19 in January this year.
But on Sunday night, the sweet-swinging Grace lifted his 11th career title at the Puerto Rico Open – carding an explosive eagle-birdie finish in this PGA Tour event.
After the round an emotional Branden paid tribute to his late father.
“I just played the right shots at the right time. Got aggressive – and my dad always said I was an aggressive player and he liked that side of my golf. I’m sure he was watching over me today – playing aggressively. I spoke to my mom before the final round and my wife told me that my dad would give me the advice I needed and, you know, somehow he did.”
Grace went on to say that he and his family had to pull together through a difficult time. “It’s been a tough couple of months and with all the support back home with my wife, my son and my family – and all that we have been through, you know, I feel there is now some light at the end of the tunnel.”
With a 19-under-par aggregate of 269, Grace shot a final six-under 66 to hold off Johnathan Vegas by just one shot. Now he will move back into the top 100 in the rankings.
This adds to the 32-year-old’s first PGA title at the RGB Classic in 2016 and he now has two PGA titles alongside nine European Tour wins.
In 2012, he became the first player in the history of the European Tour to win his first four European Tour titles in the same year. This included the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland where he shot a European Tour record-equaling 60 in the first round at Kingsbarns, and this writer was privileged to walk every hole with him that day.
On 22 July 2017, he became the first man to record a sub-63 score in a Major when he shot a 62 (8-under-par) in the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.
Grace’s SA Open victory at Randpark in January 2020 saw him power his way to four straight second-nine birdies in the final round to edge past overnight leader Louis Oosthuizen (the 2019 winner) who finished second three strokes back.
Written by Randpark member Grant Winter