Grace on point at The Open

SA Open Championship: Round 2Branden Grace has an affinity for links golf and has been in fine form this season, which makes him one of the South African favourites heading into this year’s Open Championship.

The 27-year-old knows how to handle the home of golf, having won the 2012 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship with a final round of 70 on The Old Course.

He comes into the week on the back of a tied-17th result at the Scottish Open and has already won twice on the European Tour this season. His ability to score is undoubted, and his stroke average of 69.92 in Europe this year proves it.

“I’ve had some great success here in the past and hopefully I can carry those things into this week coming. The positive signs are there, so if I can keep hitting the ball well, and make a couple of putts, then you never know,” he said.

“It’s a bit of local knowledge from the last couple of times around, but everything depends on the draw here. If you get the weather on a good day, early out, you can get it going and make a good number. If it starts blowing in the afternoon it will be tougher,” he added.

His nerves will be put to the test, because The Open at St. Andrews is a special thing. His share of fourth at US Open will go a long way to calm him down, as will the help of caddie Zack Rasego, who carried the bag for Louis Oosthuizen when he won The Open in 2010.

“Zack is sort of defending here and we’ve had some success ourselves. He’s had a good win with Louis here a couple of years back, so he’ll be a big help this week and hopefully we can make it two in a row for him,” said Grace.

The Western Cape local has developed plenty of different shots in his time playing out of The Links at Fancourt, and he’ll need to use different tricks to manage the course. A Tuesday practice round with Oosthuizen and George Coetzee helped him to understand how the course will play this week.

“I played 18 holes with Louis and George, which was nice,” said Grace. “The golf course looks very different with all the grandstands up, which gives the tournament a different vibe.

“The course is a lot softer and playing a bit longer than my last time here, but it allows us to play for the pins a bit more. At the moment you can go at the flags and it’s a nice change.”

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