Branden Grace was always going to be a South African favourite going into the week at Chambers Bay Golf Club, so it was little surprise to the locals when he carded a Friday 67 to share third place at the halfway mark of the US Open.
“This is something I’ve dreamed of. This is something I’ve prepared for. This is something I’ve practiced for. So the opportunity is nice, it depends if you take it or not,” he said.
The 27-year-old rose to fame by winning three European Tour events in his rookie year and has since won a further three titles on that tour.
This week on the links-style Chambers Bay he’s showing classy stuff, and currently lies on four-under-par, one shot behind leaders Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed.
“I’ve been playing much better in the States and everything has been building up to something like this,” said Grace. “And then again, I feel very comfortable on the links. I’ve had a couple of wins back in Europe on the links, and it’s trying to stay patient and take the chances when they come your way.”
The George local got the week off to a decent start when he carded 69 on Thursday, but he went two shots better and carded 67 for the second round, despite lipping out for a bogey at the 18th.
He scored well throughout the day and that helped to limit the cost of making bogeys, which is inevitable at such a tricky course.
“Nobody has won a major after 36 holes. So you have to stay in your frame of mind and in your zone and try and make birdies and keep the mistakes off the scorecard. Just unfortunate finishing with a bogey, but still a good round. I’m in a good position and I’m looking forward to hopefully a good weekend,” he said.
The Fancourt professional has proven his big match temperament time and again, but it doesn’t get much larger than a major, which means the coming weekend will really test his mettle.
The Sunshine Tour has consistently produced young major winners through the years, and its latest prodigy could well join the likes of Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen by taking the next big step in his career.
“We all want to do one thing, we all want to win tournaments,” said Grace. “Every golfer that teed it up this week, all our dreams are to win majors and to compete in the majors.”