Branden Grace is reunited with caddie Zack Rasego and he credits the resumption of that partnership for the way his game has come back to him late in the year.
He closed out his European Tour season with a share of ninth in the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai for his first top-10 performance since his second place in January’s Volvo Golf Champions in Durban.
And, after a lacklustre start to the Lion of Africa Cape Town Open in which he shot a first round 755, he came roaring back in Friday’s second round with a sparkling bogey-free eight-under-par 64 to vault himself into contention behind leader Hennie Otto.
“I’ve got Zack on the bag again, and he’s been around Royal Cape a couple of times,” said Grace as he assessed his chances on a course that he wasn’t that familiar with before the tournament started.
“It was a deliberate move to get him back. Things happen for a reason. We stopped working together and things went a little bit south. But you have to go through those things in life. I made a mistake and things are back to normal. And in the couple of weeks since he’s started, I’ve not finished out of the top 25,” Grace added.
Things looked a little bleak, however, after his three-over start to the Lion of Africa Cape Town Open. “I don’t know where I was yesterday, but today was what my last couple of weeks have been like,” he said after his brilliant second round. “If I knew the difference between yesterday and today I wouldn’t have done what I did!”
Part of the difference came from actually going against his caddie’s advice. “Today pretty much everything was on song and I was pretty aggressive,” he said. “This is not the longest course and on the shorter holes I took driver and gave it a bang – even though Zack was telling me to be cautious.”
Clearly, playing well takes more than getting a caddie back, and Grace has also been working on his putting, which had looked uncomfortable for some time. “I’ve gone to the claw grip,” he said. “I’s been a big help and things are happening.
“I’ve also worked with Sherylle Calder, who is known for the success she has had with Ernie (Els) and many others. We’ve worked together for a good couple of months and it’s definitely helped with a lot of things,” he added.
It’s not perfect yet, but he’s a lot happier. “I’ll take eight-under on any golf course, but I still felt like I left a couple out there,” he said. “I’m back in there now and if I can get another low one then you never know what can happen.”