04/17/2016

In the great summer of golf last year, one player in particular unfairly flew under the radar. Sure Jordan Spieth deserved all the accolades that came his way, as did Jason Day. Then there was the resilient Zach Johnson, the precise Justin Rose and the even-keeled Louis Oosthuizen all who played themselves into contention at the season’s last three majors.

But one man delivered clutch performance after performance and failed to garner the same sort of attention.

Brendan Grace finished T4 at the US Open. If you recall, he played with Spieth in the penultimate group during the final round. Grace went on to a T20 finish at St. Andrews before closing his strong run with a solo third at the PGA Championship. He slowly earned credibility of one the stars to watch in 2016.

Grace finally delivered on that promise this weekend.

On the back of a five-under 66, he captured his first career PGA Tour title at the RBC Heritage to best former World No. 1 Luke Donald by two strokes. Grace finished at -9 for the tournament.

Sunday once again displayed Grace’s merit. Like he did at Chamber’s Bay last June, he came out firing when others fell behind. Grace closed his front-nine with five birdies against one bogey for a cool 32. Back-to-back birdies on 12 and 13 all but sealed the tournament for the 27-year-old.

It came at a good time, too. Grace failed to make the cut at The Masters last week. Playing with combustible pros Bubba Watson and Ian Poulter, he couldn’t conquer Augusta’s greens. Then again, few could.

This week was a different story. In difficult playing conditions, Grace held serve even as he met inspired opposition. Donald, who’s fall from the top of the world rankings has been well documented, shot even par in the final round to miss out on his chance at redemption. Still, the result bodes well for him in a Ryder Cup year. You may remember, he was somewhat controversially left out two years ago.

Then there’s the mad scientist Bryson DeChambeau. After winning low amateur honors at Augusta, and plenty of fans in the process, the former Southern Methodist starlet turned professional midweek. The RBC was his first event where he could collect a paycheck and DeChambeau didn’t disappoint. He carded a three-under 68 to finish T4 with Kevin Na.

But this should be more about Grace (If you think it is, just head to PGATour.com where an article about DeChambeau’s debut greets you as of this writing).

The South African doesn’t have the majors that his countrymen Charl Schwartzel, Oosthuizen and Ernie Els do. But he is continuing to put himself in the “players to watch” conversation. Grace came through under pressure in what has become one of the tour’s trickiest stops.

All indications are there is plenty more to come.