Grace credits Presidents Cup experience for success at 16th hole at TPC ScottsdaleSouth African’s Round 2 at Waste Management Phoenix Open includes two eagles, hole-in-one
February 01, 2019
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
Branden Grace birdies No. 16 at Waste Management
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – South Africa’s Branden Grace wasn’t sure what to expect in his first start at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, but he couldn’t have expected this.
In one of the wildest scoring lines on the PGA TOUR so far this season, Grace’s topsy-turvy second round on Friday included two eagles, including a hole-in-one at the 194-yard, par-3 seventh hole; a double bogey at 11; and five birdies for a 7-under 64.
That put him in the lead at 11 under after the morning wave.
“I just felt like the putter was on a roll today,” he said.
The winner of the 2016 RBC Heritage, Grace, 30, was dialed in Friday, hitting 11 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens. He needed just 25 putts and was helped especially at the par-3 seventh hole, where he needed zero putts. It was the third ace of his career, his first outside of China.
His caddie had to talk him out of a 7-iron and into an 8-iron.
“The guys behind the hole actually started jumping up before the ball actually went in,” Grace said with a laugh. “When people start jumping, you know it’s there, or thereabouts.”
MUST READS: Round 2, Waste Management Phoenix Open
The eight-time European Tour winner also enjoyed a highlight at the course’s more famous par-3 hole, the 155-yard 16th. After making par there in the first round, Grace rolled in a birdie putt from just over 14 1/2 feet Friday, setting off a sonic boom amongst the stadium full of crazies.
Asked about the hole, he shook his head and smiled.
“I think obviously being part of three Presidents Cups helps,” he said, “because there is nothing like the 16th, yeah, I must say. There's no event that gets close. Even the majors—obviously, there's a big hype, but people are a little bit more on the safe side, if I can call it that, with how much noise they make and how crazy they get.
“But I think it's been awesome,” he added. “… I thought it can't be that bad today. This morning, when I was warming up, 7 o'clock when those gates opened, the guys were running and running to that 16th, screaming and going crazy already. I mean you knew it was going to be a loud one today. And obviously making a birdie there was pretty awesome and everybody going nuts.”
Branden Grace interview after Round 2 of Waste Management