Branden Grace is quite possibly the best graduate of the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation and earned a spot at The Open when he finished the 2013 season ranked 50th in the world.
This year the 26-year-old missed the cut at The Masters and did not play in the US Open, but his days at The Links at Fancourt make him the ideal dark horse for Royal Liverpool this year.
A graduate of the 2011 European Tour qualifying school, Grace's career took off in simply stunning fashion with no fewer than five victories the following season. He beat compatriots Ernie Els and Retief Goosen in a play-off for the Volvo Champions and could not be caught after starting the Dunhill Links Championship with a European Tour record-equalling 60 at Kingsbarns.
The former South African amateur stroke play champion, having climbed into the world's top 30 after starting 2011 at 435th, came close to adding the Scottish Open last summer, but was beaten in a play-off by Phil Mickelson.
This year Grace took home second place at the Volvo Golf Champions after finishing one shot behind compatriot Louis Oosthuizen. After 13 European Tour events he ranks 27th in the Race to Dubai, and a fortnight ago he carded a Sunday 66 to finish tied for 28th at the BMW International Open.
Grace is a player who performs best under pressure and that, combined with his affinity for links golf, mean that this week at Royal Liverpool suits him. South Africans have won two of the last four Open Championships and he will surely have an eye to continue the winning trend.