19 August 2015
South African golfer Brendan Grace says he is not backing down as one of the world’s top contenders in professional golf.
The 27-year-old finished third in this year’s final golf major – the PGA Championship – held at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin, United States from 13 to 16 August. Grace put himself in contention with a remarkable 64 on 15 August, but shot 69 the next day.
His score was 15-under par, five shots behind champion Jason Day of Australia and two behind the US’s Jordan Spieth. “I’m getting closer in the majors, which I want to do,” Grace said in an interview published on the Sunshine Tour’s official website. “I feel that the game is keeping up and the standard of golf that I’m playing is showing. And I don’t have to step down for these guys.”
Grace has two wins on the European Tour and in the Dimension Data Pro-Am on the Sunshine Tour in the bag.
His reward – besides the satisfaction of knowing he belongs in the rarefied company of the world’s best players – was his own little climb in the Official World Golf Rankings to 20th, just seven spots behind the top-ranked South African player, 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen.
The sense of belonging is a critical contributor to why he has had such a good year: “I think you just kind of relax as you go into the major weeks now,” said Grace.
“I just told my caddie Zach [Rasego] as we were walking up 18, it’s amazing how these weeks turn out. My first two rounds of golf weren’t spectacular at all and I just grinded away and look where I finished up.
“I made a couple of silly mistakes around the turn. That disappointing double bogey on the 10 got me back, too far back.”
He admitted that Day was a tough competitor this week. “He played some marvellous golf and I don’t think anybody would have caught him this week. But if those silly mistakes weren’t in there, you never know what could have been at the finish.”
Grace’s year is already a success. He can relax and chase victories wherever he chooses now, and get himself up for a renewed attempt to unlock the door to a major victory next year.
“This year after Augusta, my approach to the majors been a lot quieter,” he said. “I’ve been much more relaxed and I’m just taking it as it comes, really. Play maybe one, maybe two practice days and just go with it. And I think that’s been a key to getting to where I am.”
He was not the only South African taking part in this year’s final major. George Coetzee was the second best placed South African, finishing on 12-under par after shooting 67 in the final round at Whistling Straits on 16 August.
Ernie Els finished tied for 25th on 5-under par, while Louis Oosthuizen (-4) and Charl Schwartzel (-3) were further back. The other South Africans competing in the event – Tim Clark, Rory Sabbatini and Johan Kok, who was born in South Africa – had missed the cut.