JOHANNESBURG: Branden Grace scored a sensational 12-under-par 60 on his way to winning the 2012 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland, and last year in the Open at Royal Birkdale he became the first player in history to score 62 in a Major.
And this past Sunday in the Byron Nelson tournament in Texas, he matched that number on the day he turned 30.
“That was some birthday present, it was fun,” exclaimed the South African, who is in a league of his own when it comes to sub-par blitzes, and who – late-night TV viewers in this country will have witnessed – swept through the last five holes on Sunday in five-under-par with an eagle three at 14, followed by three straight birdies and then a par at the closing hole.
And he opened his round by sinking a bunker shot for a birdie four, the trap so deep that only caddie Zac Rasego saw the ball fall into the cup.
The 62 gave him a 19-under-par total of 265 and joint third place, four back of South Africa-born Aaron Wise, who moved to the US with his family when he was three and who has now notched his maiden win on the PGA Tour.
In Texas, Grace was playing his first tournament since his wife Nieke gave birth to their first child, Roger, on April 25.
So, with another 62 in the bag and a new son to boot, Grace is feeling pretty upbeat right now.
And like compatriot Charl Schwartzel, who tied for second in The Players Championship two Sundays back, he has hit form ahead of next month’s US Open at Shinnecock Hills on Long Island, New York.
Grace has now leapfrogged Louis Oosthuizen in the latest world rankings to reclaim SA’s No 1 spot, moving from 36th to 33rd.
As of this week, the top 60 in the official world golf rankings have automatically qualified for the US Open. This means that Grace (33), Oosthuizen (36), Schwartzel (43) and Dylan Frittelli (57) will be on the tee at Shinnecock.
Two-time US Open champion Ernie Els has received a special exemption into the tournament.