European Tour

Grace hopes to carry SA baton

2014-06-27 14:45
Branden Grace (Gallo)

Cologne - Golfer Branden Grace said on Friday he is hoping to kick-start a South African revival at the BMW International Open on the European Tour in Germany.

The 26-year-old carded his second consecutive five-under 67 at the Golf Club Gut Laerchenhof outside Cologne to lie 10-under, two shots off the pace midway through the second round.

“I think it is about time we have a South African winner again on the European Tour. At one stage the South Africans were looking very good on the world ranking, but the guys have really fallen back a little bit.”

The last South African winner on the European Tour was Thomas Aiken, who won the Africa Open at the Fish River Sun near Port Alfred in February.

However, the tournament, which was co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour, failed to attract many big-name players.

The last South African to win outside his home country, was Ernie Els, who topped the leaderboard at the BMW International Open last year.

“I think it is just a matter of time. We just need the one win to inspire the rest again," Grace said.

"I think we did it two years ago, when everybody was doing well. Then one thing led to the other. So it is just a matter of time.

The four-time winner on the European Tour said the South African players tried to encourage each other.

“It is nice. I had breakfast with Jbe' Kruger this morning. He had a level par round yesterday and he is in the same boat.

"I played a practice round with him and I saw he is striking the golf ball beautifully, just not finishing it on the course. I told him this morning: 'just imagine you are on the driving range'. He is hitting it so well on the driving range, he must just take it onto the golf course.

"I am glad to see he had a good day. He finished seven under for the day. I am pleased for him and I think it just needs those little things to go your way.”

Grace started the season strongly, finishing second in the Volvo Golf Champions tournament in Durban, but then struggled to finish near the top. He missed the cut in his last tournament at the Irish Open.

He said he had done a lot of training since then.

“I did not really play badly last week. It was just that I did not get the ball close enough to the hole. But then I worked hard and I now feel really comfortable in the swing and I just have to stay patient. I have given myself chances and I missed a few, but I made a few.

“You can feel you are doing everything well, you are hitting the ball well, you are putting well, but sometimes things just don't happen and I think that was the case after my good start to the season.

“I just needed that one good round to get things going again. And I think that is what happened in the first round on Thursday. It was a very solid round, just one bogey. And today again, I hit the ball great, made a couple of putts and no bogey. So that is a big positive.”

He said that although he was well-placed on 10-under 134, he would have to work hard to remain in contention.

“It is tough - to win you really have to do something special. Like here, I had two great rounds, but I will be three, maybe four behind at the end of the day. So you just keep grinding, it will happen eventually. You just keep going and doing the business.

“I am just very happy that I am in this position and fighting forward.”

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