Branden Grace touches down in Florida this week as the PGA Tour makes one of its high profile stops of the year. The Players Championship is a marquee event and many consider it the ‘fifth major’. The setting at TPC Sawgrass is fitting and it comes as no surprise that a stellar field is present, including the top ten in the world. The biggest name missing will be world number 21 Charl Schwartzel.
Grace has enjoyed an extremely successful year bar missed cuts at The Masters and Honda Classic. The world number 11 has won twice in 2016 and accumulated no less than seven top-10 finishes in his outings on both the European and PGA Tours. The two-time Qatar Masters champion had a break through win on the PGA Tour at the RBC Heritage and thus secured his card for the next two seasons. Grace can come into this week thinking that he has a real chance to win.
The Pretoria-born player has primarily focused on the PGA Tour this year andlast teed up on the European Tour when he won the Qatar Masters back in January. Given the prestige of the event, he will hope his Masters blip is not repeated. The seven-time European Tour winner will back himself come Sunday to be at the sharp end of the leaderboard, considering he ranks second on the PGA Tour in final-round scoring average.
Grace will be followed closely in the first two rounds after being drawn alongside Jason Day and Jordan Spieth, strong motivation for him to show that he is among the world’s best and increase his profile across the pond.
Louis Oosthuizen is also in the field and could challenge, as well as Ernie Els and the steadily improving Retief Goosen.