Branden Grace made sure of a very tidy opening to the PGA Championship on Thursday – signing off only three strokes behind leader Corey Conners.
The second Major of 2021 got off with a bang at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island with the best of the best in the game teeing off for what promises to be an exciting weekend of championship golf.
Overall it was a decent start for the big group of South Africans in the field with the likes of Louis Oosthuizen and Erik van Rooyen doing a good job as some of the early starters in the day.
But, it was Grace, who stole the local spotlight with a steady, yet influential two-under-par 70 for the opening round.
Teeing off on the 10th, the 2020 SA Open champion converted two early birdie opportunities within the first three holes of his round.
A bogey on 14th, his fifth hole for the day, put Grace one back but he responded brilliantly with two back-to-back birdies to turn with a decent 33.
Unfortunately for the Grace, though, he couldn’t fully capitalise on the start he had and had to work a bit harder as he came home.
Two more bogeys with one birdie was all he could master on the back nine to sign off on two under par and in T8 alongside Phil Mickelson, Gary Woodland, Kevin Streelman, Sungjae Im, Cameron Tringale, Martin Laird and Collin Morikawa.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout also enjoyed a pretty solid opening to his Major – going one under for the first round to end the day alongside Oosthuizen.
Conners, though, proved to be a class above the rest of the field on Thursday by shooting a five-under-par 67 to take the opening-round lead in South Carolina.
Sam Horsfield, Cam Davis, Keegan Bradley, Viktor Hovland, Brooks Koepka and Aaron Wise all share a spot for second – two strokes back on three under.