Grace to take on Kaymer

Branden Grace will tee off alongside Ryder Cup star Martin Kaymer at the South African Open Championship in November.

Rising star Branden Grace will tee off alongside Ryder Cup star Martin Kaymer at the South African Open Championship, which takes place from November 15-18.

The 24-year-old Grace has taken the golf world by storm over the last 10 months, winning five tournaments and moving from outside the top 300 to within the top 40 players in the world.

His latest victory came this past weekend when he claimed a two-shot victory in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in St Andrews, having led the tournament from the first round.

Now the South African has set his sights on triumphing at the world’s second-oldest Open Championship when the 102nd SA Open takes place at the Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate later this year.

“Obviously this year has been a dream year so far, and going back home, I hope I get rewarded for what I’ve done this year and that people will come out in support. It’s going to feel awesome to tee it up in the SA Open,” Grace commented.

“Over the last couple of years I’ve felt that I’ve played good golf, but never really got the push out of it; I never really got where I wanted to be.”

Like 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, Grace is a product of Ernie Els’s Fancourt Foundation and has been backed for big things since winning the Freddy Tait Trophy as the leading amateur in the 2007 South African Open.

“Branden is one heck of a player,” Els – the reigning Open champion – told reporters at St Andrews.

“He’s good enough to play the PGA Tour and European Tour. He could win an Open Championship, he’s that good.”

Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington also praised player from Knysna, saying that “…there’s probably nobody in professional golf at the moment who I’d like to play with more, just to see his game and what makes him tick.”

Khaya Ngqula, the SA Open chairman, said that he is delighted to confirm Grace’s entry into the tournament.

“Branden has no doubt established himself as a quality player this year and with his exemption secured on the European Tour for a couple of years, he will earn more starts on the PGA Tour and get into the four majors,” said Ngqula.

“Having risen to third in the Race to Dubai, Grace might even yet deny world No1 Rory McIlroy for the European money list title next month.

“But every South African golfer dreams of lifting the SA Open title and Branden’s participation underlines his desire to cap his exceptional season by lifting the national title and adding his name to the illustrious list of previous winners, including Major champions Bobby Locke, Gary Player, Retief Goosen, Trevor Immelman and Els.”