An eagle at the eighth hole powered South Africa’s Branden Grace into the conversation at the top of the leaderboard at the Barracuda Championship.
Playing in the alternative event to the WGC-St Jude Invitational, Grace’s eagle was particularly lucrative.
The event in Truckee, California uses a modified Stableford scoring format which means the South African’s hole-out was worth five points.
‘The hole sets up so nice to my little fade there, and it’s one of those where it’s not really one that you have to bump. If you can just hit it normally you can get it there or thereabouts, and I hit a good one straight at it, came up a little bit short, just in the rough, decent lie, a lot of green to work with,’ said Grace.
‘I hit the perfect chip, it came out nicely and managed to roll in, so that was a big bonus. But other than that, I played really solid.’
The regular European Tour winner gave away three points with bogeys but he’s enjoying his week and will start round two four points off the lead.
‘Oh, I love it so far. It’s just a pity it’s always opposite the WGC. It’s such a great place. I would love to bring my wife and my son out here one day. It’s just so phenomenal. We like the mountains and things like that, and the golf course is great, I must say. It’s in magnificent condition, and I look forward to the next three days.’
Ranked as the best player in the field, he is chasing some FedExCup points in order to salvage a season in which he feels could’ve produced more.
‘I’ve actually felt I’ve played a lot better than actually what the scores are reflecting, but it’s one of those where you have to keep on coming, keep on grinding. You want to see where you can finish at the end of the season, and I’m getting to do just that. If I can come out here, you never know, play well, get the win or something like that, and then get into next week, which is a big week, and then take it from there.’
Ryan Moore and Adam Schenk both finished with 14 points in bogey-free rounds to lead.