It’s been a frustrating five months for Branden Grace (@BrandenGrace), with four cuts missed on the European Tour and four on the PGA Tour, and he’s taken a big step towards overcoming those problems with consecutive rounds of five-under-par 67 in the BMW International Open in Cologne, Germany.
From a career high on the Official Golf World Rankings of 26th a year ago after his play-off defeat to Phil Mickelson, he started 2014 inside the world’s top 50 with the golfing world seeming his oyster. But he’s down to 82nd after a steady slide down the list, and a good tournament has seemed a long way off for the man who was so impressive in his breakthrough year in 2012.
So his opening 67 in Cologne was a welcome harbinger of a golfing spring, and the second-round replica of that score just underlined for him that there could just be light at the end of a tunnel that must have seemed endless.
“I’ve actually not been playing too badly,” he said. “It’s just that the confidence hasn’t been up, but it’s nice to be back up there and nice to be playing the kind of golf I know I can – it was nice to get it on the fairways, get it on the greens and give myself chances and nice to make a couple.”
He is still highly placed on the European Tour’s 2014 Race to Dubai, sitting pretty in 20th position after his second place in the Volvo Golf Champions in Durban in January and his 13th in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters later the same month.
But his PGA Tour efforts have been poor, and the four missed cuts are given an added lack of lustre with a third-round exit in the Valero Texas Open when he failed to make the secondary cut in that event ahead of the final round. And his only finishes in the money in 2014 came in his first-round exit in the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championships and his share of 40th in the WGC-Cadillac Championship.
“It’s been a long wait,” said Grace after that first round in Cologne. “I’ve just had to believe that one breakthrough round is going to happen. I hope I can learn from this start.”
It was as he thought it would be when he tackled the second round. “There wasn’t anything different out there,” he said. “The ball-striking was good, the putter was working every now and then – enough to get the low score in there.
“It’s a good time of the year to get into positive territory, so I’m very happy to be in the position I am,” he added. “I’ve worked hard, and now I just have to stay patient.”