Los Angeles - South Africa's Branden Grace
arrived at TPC San Antonio brimming with confidence after a first US PGA Tour
triumph, eager to tackle what could be a tough week at the Valero Texas Open.
The South African, a 10-time winner
internationally before notching his first US tour victory on Sunday at Hilton
Head, is hoping that success will translate not only this week but beyond.
"I can really sit back, not really
relax, but enjoy it a little bit more and really start preparing for a couple
of things that I really want - to do well in the majors, in the WGCs and then
kind of push to get those big boxes ticked off," Grace said on Wednesday.
Far from feeling fatigued in the wake of
his RBC Heritage run, in which he defeated former world number one Luke Donald
of England and Scotland's Russell Knox by two strokes, Grace said he was
"I actually feel quite relaxed and
quite rested up and excited to get on the golf course and see what it has to
offer this year," he said.
Rainy weather in south Texas will likely
make for different conditions on the Oaks course than golfers faced recently.
Grace recalled strong winds and a firm,
fast course the past two years, but predicted that this year "it's going
to be a little bit softer and obviously playing a lot longer".
"It's going to be a completely
different test, but the golf course still has its own obstacles," he said.
"You really have to hit it straight and obviously everybody knows there
are some funky greens out here. You really have to hit it and place the ball
well on the greens to give yourself some opportunities."
American Jimmy Walker won last year, his
second title of 2015 moving him into the top 10 in the world rankings for the
In front of a hometown crowd that included
friends and family, Walker beat fellow Texan Jordan Spieth by four strokes.
But Walker hasn't won since, and said he
needs to sharpen up his short game if he wants to improve on the three top-10
finishes he has had this season.
"I just haven't been getting up and
down enough, not pitching it close enough," Walker said. "Bunker game
has been struggling a little bit, maybe from a little lack of practice.
"I'm focusing on different stuff and
need to get back to not making any bogeys," he added. "I'm just kind
of wasting too many shots. I don't think it's from off the tee or approach
shots or anything. Just mostly pitching and putting."