Can Grace get back to normal this week

Branden Grace’s purple patch when he won the Joburg Open and the Volvo Champions in successive weeks was always going to be a hard act to follow.

He missed the cut in the following week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and then he finished in a share of 47th in the Commercialbank Qatar Masters last week.

There will be a certain sense of déjà vu for Grace as he tees off tomorrow morning with Nicolas Colsaerts in the European Tour’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic: He played with the big-hitting Belgian in the final round of the Volvo Champions ahead of his dramatic playoff victory over Ernie Els and Retief Goosen.

No golf fan in the world would have expected him to have won for a third week in a row, as much as Grace’s South African fans would have loved it, and now that he has had some time out of the spotlight, he will be able to approach play this week with a somewhat less cluttered mind.

And being with Colsaerts, it will remind him of the virtues which won him the biggest tournament of his young professional golf life: he might not have been as long as him off the tee, but he was straighter more often, and he married that with a bulldog grit to get him through the stressful playoff against two boyhood heroes.

And there will be less of a media scrum around the tournament this week than there was two weeks back, as Tiger Woods has returned to the United States to get his PGA Tour season underway.

Grace will still have to contend with three of the world’s top four players – Luke Donald is the only one missing from the leading quartet, the balance of which is made up by Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer – but he hits the fairways knowing he’s not out of place at that level anymore.

Other South Africans in the field are Richard Sterne, George Coetzee, Jaco van Zyl, James Kingston, Jbe’ Kruger and Keith Horne.

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