Grace looking for share of bigger Di Data prize fund

Branden Grace stumbled to a final-round 73 in the Dimension Data Pro-Invitational, and he has an increased cash incentive to rectify that mistake at next week’s event over the three Fancourt courses.

In addition to the invitation to the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, Sunshine Tour professionals will also be playing for an extra R200,000 in the Dimension Data Pro-Am.

The winner’s share of the prize-fund has been boosted to R475,000 from the R443,000 Darren Fichardt won last year – and the 2011 winner will also get a chance to compete for the $8.5-million in the WGC event in Akron, Ohio from August 4-7.

With play on each of The Links, Outeniqua and Montagu layouts before the cut and the final round on Montagu, professionals play with amateur partners in a concurrent betterball medal contest, with the top 25 teams also progressing beyond the third-round cut.

Grace eventually finished fourth, frustrated by his one-over final round, especially since he had come home in a superb five-under 31 for his final nine on Montagu just the day before.

As Fichardt held off a charging Louis Oosthuizen and rookie Daniel Greene, who carded 66 and 65 respectively, Grace made three bogeys on the same final nine to finish five off the pace.

And added to his bogeys on the first and the third, those mistakes were enough to rob him of his chance at a maiden victory on home territory.

He has subsequently atoned at Montagu by taking his maiden professional title in last year’s Coca-Cola Championship presented by Gary Player, but he would love to win again at Fancourt in front of his hometown fans – and in a tournament that offers enough prize money to give him a substantial leg-up on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit.

He’s currently in sixth after top-20 finishes in the Africa Open, the Joburg Open and the Africom Zimbabwe Open. His best finish was a share of eighth in the Africa Open.

And the bait of getting into the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational – an exemption granted the Sunshine Tour which previously gave the winner of the now defunct Vodacom Championship that exemption – will be a powerful incentive, together with the increased prize money.

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