Grace back at scene of glory
George - Branden Grace returns to his home town of George this week to compete in the Dimension Data Pro-Am at Fancourt, which was the scene of his maiden European Tour victory just a month ago.
The 23-year-old clearly favours Fancourt’s three courses - The Links, Outeniqua and Montagu - all three of which will be in use for the R3 5-million tournament which starts on Thursday.
Fancourt has been the venue of many firsts for Grace, starting with his first professional victory when he won the Coca-Cola Championship in 2010. By the end of 54 holes at the Montagu course, Grace had done enough work to finish two strokes clear of Ulrich van den Berg and Justin Walters.
In January it was the scene of his biggest European Tour victory. The George local headed home to take on the European Tour’s best at the Volvo Golf Champions, which was played across The Links course.
Grace closed the event at 12-under, which forced a playoff between him and his childhood heroes - Retief Goosen and Ernie Els - but he overcame the odds and claimed victory.
The win came on the back of his victory at the Joburg Open and he immediately took the lead in the Race to Dubai and earned himself the title of European Tour’s golfer of the month for January.
At the 2011 Di-Data Pro-Am Grace struggled during his first 18 and carded level-par 73 on The Links, but he played well on the Montagu course, carding rounds of 67 and 71 to close the tournament at nine-under. The 280-stroke total earned Grace a share of fourth, while eventual winner Hennie Otto dominated the tournament and finished at 16-under-par.
Otto will have high hopes for a defending his title, especially since he closed the 2011 Di-Data Pro-Am with a four-stroke winning margin. He also won the 2011 SA Open Championship when he closed the tournament at 14-under-par, five strokes clear of Grace, who finished in a share of ninth.
Grace returns to his hometown this week with fond memories, not only of his childhood, but of his maiden victories, and will be keen to take another real crack at hometown glory.