While some of the top players have scheduling issues with this week’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, Branden Grace should be embracing the difficulties of playing such a big tournament just a week ahead of the year’s final major.
While he didn’t have to squeeze in the RBC Canadian Open in between the Open Championship and Bridgestone in the run-up to next week’s PGA Championship, Grace will nonetheless be aware that he has to hit the ground running when he takes on the notoriously fickle Firestone Country Club South Course in Akron, Ohio.
It’s a 7,400-yard par-70, and with one of Grace’s strengths being his ability to exploit the par-fives, he will be tested with only two of them at his disposal this week.
He gets underway on Thursday in the company of Paul Casey, the last of the players off the 10th tee for the day, by which stage he should have seen just how the course is playing – but he will also have to deal with greens that will be way softer than those he faced at the Open Championship, and they could be bumpier than those who will play in the morning will experience.
He finished in a share of 64th in the Open – not the kind of result he would have been hoping for after his play-off defeat by Phil Mickelson in the Scottish Open – and that will make him eager to head into the PGA Championship in better form than he has shown in what was always going to be a quiet year after his five victories in 2012.
He will be helped by the fact that there is no cut in the lucrative WGC event, so he will be assured of four rounds of tough tournament play in preparation for next week at Oak Hill.