Branden Grace hit 10 of 14 fairways on Thursday during the first round of the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club, but couldn’t translate that into a fast start.
Grace is one of two South Africans in the field following Louis Oosthuizen’s late withdrawal, but has plenty to do if he wants to be around for the weekend.
Starting on the back nine, he failed to find the putting surface on the 190-yard par-3 13th which led to his first drop of the day. He was two-over after he failed to find the next par-3, the 192-yard 16th, with another two-putt bogey.
A booming drive on the 389-yard par-4 second allowed Grace to pitch it close and roll in his 10-footer for his first birdie of the day.
Now SA’s third-highest ranked player – he has been overtaken by Justin Harding – Grace failed in his bid for a measure of revenge on the shorts when he missed his eight-foot chance on the 199-yard eighth hole as he settled for a 71. He will need to improve his putting on Friday, as he lost more than 1.3 shots to the field on the greens.
Grace sits seven back of leader Tony Finau, with Jordan Spieth and Roger Sloan tied for second at 5-under, and a large group sharing fourth on 3-under including Major winners Jimmy Walker and Jason Dufner.
Tyrone van Aswegen opened with 69 after missing just five greens in regulation.
Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images