Branden Grace is on a high after winning the RBC Heritage last week, but faces another difficult layout in the form of TPC San Antonio for this week’s Valero Texas Open.
The course has received plenty of rain and will be softer than usual, but no less tricky. It has brutalised golfers over the years, no more than Kevin Na, who made a 16 at the ninth hole in 2011.
Last week Grace broke onto the PGA Tour with his victory at Harbour Town Golf Links, which is also a demanding track. His younger days spent playing The Links at Fancourt in George have proven invaluable during his professional career.
TPC San Antonio’s tricky putting surfaces put a premium on approach shots and it will be crucial to find the right area on each green. Failure to do so will lead to a need for short-game mastery, which Grace displayed in oodles last week. Being able to play delicate chip shots will be handy in Texas.
‘You really have to hit it straight and obviously everybody knows this is some funky greens out here. Place the ball well on the greens to give yourself some opportunities,’ he said.
The 27-year-old has enjoyed a rich vein of form this season that ran through to his PGA Tour win. He has the opportunity to play hassle-free for the rest of the year, knowing that his playing rights are sealed for at least another two seasons.
‘Last year I played well pretty much in the rest of the world and, you know, I came close, couple of close calls. People don’t remember the thirds and fourths, they only remember the wins. I really wanted to get that first W over here and this is great now,’ he said.
Grace has played the Valero Texas Open twice before and last year finished in a tie for 30th place. He has good knowledge of the venue and all the right ingredients for a second win in as many weeks.
‘I’m excited to be here. I know the golf course, I know the things that don’t really change a lot. It’s a little bit wet and the golf course is going to play totally different than the last couple of years. Last year with the very strong winds and getting firm and quick and this year I’m sure it’s going to be a little bit softer and obviously playing a lot longer,’ he concluded.