CARNOUSTIE, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 26: Branden Grace of South Africa plays off the third tee during the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on the Championship Links on September 26, 2013 in Carnoustie, Scotland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Durban – Former champion Branden Grace is determined to enjoy a much better 2014 compared to the barren 12 month period he has just come off and is targeting a winning start at the Volvo Golf Champions in Durban this week.

The 25-year-old struggled to recapture the form he showed in his breakthrough 2012 season – he became the first player in the history of the European Tour to win his first four events in the same year – by failing to win a single trophy last year.

“Last year was a tough year,” he said in Durban on Tuesday.

“Obviously, you know, not just for myself, but any player, you would have struggled having the year that I had in come out and really just be the same.

“So last year was a lot of firsts for me again. I feel like I found my feet in 2012 and then you come into 2013, and now you're playing in bigger tournaments in the (United) States.”

Grace, 25, spent a fair amount of time playing on the PGA Tour last season following his spectacular breakthrough, although his best finish was tied 18th. In Europe his highest placing came at the Scottish Open where he ended second.

“This year, it's nice that, again I can choose my schedule,” he said.

“If you do your homework a little bit, you can go to courses you think you can play well and that suit your game.

“The States is a little bit different but now I know what it's like to play there and what to expect and what not to expect. I'm really looking forward and the goals are more on not just performances but the Majors and the WGCs. Those are some events that I really want to put a key on.”

Grace is one of seven South Africans in the 36-man field, which is made up of European Tour players who won an event on the previous year’s international schedule and current Tour members with more than ten European Tour victories.

The others are defending champion Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Darren Fichardt, Dawie van der Walt, Thomas Aiken and Richard Sterne, all vying for a US$4-million (approx R40-million) purse.

“It's nice to be back in Durban, it's one of the best golf courses in South Africa with a lot of history,” Grace said of Durban Country Club.

“I'm very happy, we (the South Africans) have all had a steady year.

“We all know how to win. Everybody in the tournament knows what it's like to win and knows what to do to win.

“I feel pretty comfortable. But there's a couple of things I need to work on this afternoon before the week starts, and then hopefully come Thursday I'll be there.” – Sapa