Branden brings new grit to Augusta

dHe’s played the last three Masters, but Branden Grace is a whole new proposition when it comes to this week at Augusta National.

His best finish in the year’s first major was a share of 18th in 2013, and he contrived to miss the cut in the following two editions. But after he missed the weekend’s action last year, he went on to compile three impressive performances in the remaining three majors, in the process becoming a player who now figures in all the pre-tournament thinking of pundits when it comes to the majors.

He was within a single tee-shot of taking the US Open, when he pushed his effort off the 16th to the right and out of bounds. He finished in a share of fourth there, and he came third in the PGA Championship. Sandwiched between those performances was a share of 20th in The Open.

So when it’s time to get down to business at Augusta National on Thursday, he will bring a pedigree to the tournament which will make his opponents wary of what he can achieve when things start going his way.

He has already won once in 2016, at the Commercialbank Qatar Masters, and while that was some time back, at the end of January, it is that victory which makes him as much a contender at Augusta as anyone else.

While his form in the United States hasn’t been as eye-opening as some of the big names – Adam Scott and Jason Day are two who have had impressive recent victories – Grace will bring a new steeliness to the Masters which should ensure he does better than he did in 2013. And better may just mean he will be in the frame down the stretch on Sunday when the roars from the patrons tell everyone that something big is happening.

 

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