Branden Grace tied for lead in final round of US Open

Jun 20, 2015, 8:54 PM
Branden Grace, of South Africa, hits his tee shot on the 14th hole during the third round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Chambers Bay on Saturday, June 20, 2015 in University Place, Wash. (AP Photo/Matt York)
(AP Photo/Matt York)

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. (AP) — The last round that Branden Grace played at the U.S. Open before arriving at Chambers Bay this week was two years ago at Merion Golf Club near Philadelphia.

He shot 83 and missed the cut.

No wonder the affable South African had such a hard time wiping the smile from his face on Saturday. Grace survived the brutal conditions of the links-style course south of Seattle for an even-par 70 that left him at 4 under and tied for the lead entering the final round.

“I’m stoked. I can’t wait. Tomorrow is going to be a good one,” Grace said. “This is what we play golf for. It’s a dream to lead a tournament like this, or tying the lead.”

Grace is certainly the least-known among the leaders.

Masters champ Jordan Spieth is trying to become the first player since Tiger Woods in 2002 to win the first two legs of the Grand Slam. Dustin Johnson is playing in the final group of a major on Sunday for the fourth time. Jason Day has twice been runner up at the U.S. Open.

Four others are at 1 under, including countryman Louis Oosthuizen.

But Grace is plenty accomplished in his own right. The European Tour regular has won six times overseas, including the Alfred Dunhill Championship and Qatar Masters earlier this year.

He also tied for 18th at the Masters a couple years ago.

“Having a chance to win my first major,” Grace said simply, “is something special.”

Unlike the rollercoaster rounds played by some of the other leaders, Grace has been steady. He had three birdies and three bogeys Saturday, and through 54 holes has hit 44 greens in regulation — only Jason Dufner and Beau Hossler have hit more.

If he can just get a few putts to go, Grace could be in business. He had a trio of three-putts over a five-hole stretch on Saturday that kept him from going low.

“It happens quickly on this golf course. If you have damage, just keep it small and don’t let the big numbers creep in,” he said. “If you let it slip and you get the wrong bounce you’re looking at making bogeys. You just have to try to keep those things off the scorecard and make those pars. I think a good, level round tomorrow might just do it.”

It would allow Grace to join some select company, too.

The last player from South Africa to win the U.S. Open was Retief Goosen, who won his second at Shinnecock in 2004. Ernie Els has won two championships and Gary Player won one.

“We played a couple of practice rounds together earlier in the week and I said from the start, of the South Africans, he has the best chance, because he hits the ball really low with his driver,” Els said. “He gets good length, he’s a really good iron player and he’s been working on his putting. He’s got the all-around game for this place.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Penguin Air

Comments

Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Golf

Will Zalatoris of the United States reacts on the 18th green in regulation after putting in to forc...
Associated Press

Will Zalatoris secures 1st-career PGA win in opening leg of FedEx Cup Playoffs

After a handful of close calls since his arrival on the PGA Tour, Will Zalatoris secured his first win at the FedEx St. Jude Championship.
3 days ago
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 12: Bottles litter the 16th hole after a hole-in-one by Sam Ryder of...
Nikash Nath

2023 WM Phoenix Open set for week of Super Bowl LVII

The 2023 Waste Management Phoenix Open is set for Feb. 6-12 at TPC Scottsdale, with Super Bowl LVII scheduled for Feb. 12 in Glendale.
16 days ago
Cameron Smith, of Australia, holds the claret jug trophy as he poses for photographers on the 18th ...
Associated Press

Cameron Smith outlasts Rory McIlroy to win British Open at St. Andrews

The show belonged to Cameron Smith with the best closing round the Old Course had ever seen with an 8-under 64.
1 month ago
Viktor Hovland, of Norway, lines up a putt on the 18th green during the third round of the British ...
Associated Press

McIlroy, Hovland share lead heading to final day at British Open

McIlroy and Hovland, who are at 16-under par, had little trouble Saturday at the British Open at St. Andrews.
1 month ago
Cameron Smith of Australia tees off on the 18th hole during Day Two of The 150th Open at St Andrews...
Associated Press

British Open sees Cameron Smith leading, emotional exit for Tigers Woods

Cameron Smith can only wonder if the 150th Open at St. Andrews will be his arrival as an undisputed elite player.
1 month ago
Tiger Woods of the US gestures at the end of his second round of the British Open golf championship...
Associated Press

Teary-eyed Tiger Woods gets emotional sendoff on No. 18 at St. Andrews

Tiger Woods removed his cap a few strides from Swilcan Bridge, knowing Friday might be the last time he crossed over at St. Andrews.
1 month ago
Branden Grace tied for lead in final round of US Open