Joburg Open Player in Focus: Branden Grace

By Ian Hudson
Debby Wong-US Presswire

Branden Grace (pictured) won four tournaments last year and no other player can match that record. One of those wins came in the Joburg Open, a title he defends in South Africa this week. In its six year history the Joburg Open has been won by South Africans on all but two occasions, and Grace can improve that record this week.

Grace earned his playing privileges for the 2012 European Tour schedule at the qualifying school and he has taken his opportunity with multiple victories in European Tour events. He is now at a career-high of 29 in the world rankings, which means he qualifies for the majors and World Golf Championship events.

The South African player has only played in four major championships and will be debuting in the US Masters at Augusta in April. He will playing in his second US Open this summer and having a third start in the British Open, a championship in which he has made the cut on both occasions he has appeared.

Our player in Focus is seen by many as having the ability to be another player from South Africa to win a major championship. Ernie Els, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen have won majors in the current decade and going back some time Gary Player and Bobby Locke were major championship winners from South Africa.

In the context of this week’s Joburg Open, Grace cannot be overlooked when considering potential winners of this tournament. He clearly has a game suited to the two courses in Johannesburg that stage the event. He will looking to make the cut for the fifth time in the last six yeas in the capital of the country of his birth.

Grace has a good profile in terms of the key skills required for good scoring on the East and West courses at this week’s host complex. He scores highly for driving distance and putts well when hitting the greens in the correct number of shots.

Schwartzel is a two-time former winner of the Joburg Open, but his form has dipped since winning the US Masters in 2011. Grace is the next highest ranked player in the world rankings, and looks like being a leading contender this week.

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