News & Opinion

‘Fairytale end’ propels Branden Grace at Puerto Rico Open

Branden Grace Puerto Rico Open final round
Branden Grace blasts from the bunker en route to a par at the 15th hole Sunday before his eagle-birdie finish propels him to the Puerto Rico Open title.

With eagle-birdie finish, South African steals 1-stroke victory in opposite-field event as he pushes for spot in 2022 Presidents Cup

Branden Grace showed that patience, persistence and a couple of clutch shots down the stretch can lead to surprisingly good results.

Grace holed out a bunker shot from 80 feet for eagle at the par-4 17th before he got up and down for birdie at the 630-yard par-5 18th to post a stunning one-stroke victory Sunday at the PGA Tour's Puerto Rico Open (scores).

“I played really well, and just hung in there,” said Grace, 32, of South Africa. “I didn't really get frustrated, stayed patient, played the right shots at the right time and was aggressive when I needed to. And obviously a fairytale end, with holing out the bunker shot on 17, making the eagle, and then having a clutch up-and-down on 18 to win by one.”

Grace, making his first start in the event at the U.S. island commonwealth, which was played opposite the WGC Workday Championship, shot 6-under 66 for a 19-under 269 total. It was his second PGA Tour victory, and it came only a few weeks after his father died because of COVID-19. Grace earned $540,000 from the $3 million purse.

Jhonattan Vegas closed with 65 to finish second at 18-under 270. Puerto Rico’s Rafael Campos, the 54-hole leader, shot 70 for a 272 total and share of third place with fellow American Grayson Murray (70). Campus posted his career-best finish on the PGA Tour and his first top-10 result in four years.

Grace, who narrowly missed qualifying for the 2019 Presidents Cup in Australia, hopes that captain Trevor Immelman will take note of this victory ahead of the 2022 matches at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C.

"I saw him last week, and we chatted a little bit about it,” Grace said. “But, yeah, this puts me on the radar. This is obviously going to push me in the right direction and getting to play some good golf to be able to be considered for their team.”

Sign up to receive the Morning Read newsletter, along with Where To Golf Next and The Equipment Insider.