Branden Grace signed for an opening round 77 to join five other South Africans over par on Thursday at the PGA Championship, writes WADE PRETORIUS.
His over par start meant that six of the seven South Africans will be in danger of missing the cut after Richard Sterne carded a 73. The only player under par from a local context is Louis Oosthuizen at one-under.
There was room for optimism ahead of his round after his exploits at The Open, where Grace finished T6 and he looked steady with five pars to start his round, before making three doubles in four holes to make the turn in three over par 38. He made par on the 10th, before a double at the next hole following a poor drive saw him drop to five-over-par at the championship where he has two top five finishes in his last two starts.
Five-over became six at the 14th hole when he failed to save par. There was little to shout about for Grace as he could only muster a par on 15 – the second par 5 on the back nine which played as the easiest hole on the course on Thursday.
The course is expected to get firmer throughout the week, which should make scoring even more difficult with the greens already as slick as any on the tour.
The Green Mile was terrorising scorecards all day, but Grace managed to plot his way around the closing stretch in even-par, courtesy of a bunker hole out for birdie on 16, a bogey on 17 and a par on 18 as he signed for a 77 – ten strokes behind leader Thorbjorn Olesen.
Sterne was four shots better in a round littered with birdies and bogeys – almost in equal fashion. The European Tour member opened with a bogey, and was three over after drops on 6 and 7 before pulling one back with a birdie on the eighth. He would go on to make the turn in three-over with another drop on the ninth before his revival.
Birdies on 10 and 11 helped him get back into the picture before he needed another birdie at 15 to cancel out his error on 14. A closing bogey saw him post a two-over-par 73, good enough for a share of 49th place late in the day on Thursday.
Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
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