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Grace set for hectic Players start in high-profile company


South African Branden Grace is gearing up for a “hectic” start to this week’s Players Championship after being grouped with world number one Jason Day and second-ranked Jordan Spieth for the first two rounds at the TPC Sawgrass.

Grace, who landed his first PGA Tour victory at the RBC Heritage last month, is scheduled to tee off with Australian Day and American Spieth from the 10th tee at 8:43 a.m. ET (1243 GMT) in Thursday’s opening round.

“We all know each other’s games so it should be fun,” Grace, 27, told Golf Channel on Tuesday while preparing for the PGA Tour’s flagship event which is permanently held at its headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

“I haven’t played with Jordan since the U.S. Open last year and I played with Jason in a practice round at Augusta (for last month’s Masters). Great guys, but we all play a totally different game out there.”

Asked how he would cope with the huge galleries expected to follow the marquee grouping at the TPC Sawgrass, Grace replied: “By just trying to stay in your own bubble and play your own golf.

“Obviously it’s going to be hectic, it’s going to be rough out there and the crowds are going to be big. But I am playing with two great players so it’s exciting times.

“You learn from these experiences so hopefully I can take the most out of it and take that into future things.”

Grace, a seven-times winner on the European Tour, has already learned well from his limited tournament appearances over the past two seasons on the PGA Tour.

Last year, he signalled that he was a force to be reckoned with when he placed third at the PGA Championship after tying for fourth at the U.S. Open just two months earlier.

Then last month, he finally clinched a long expected first victory on the U.S. circuit with a final-round master class at the RBC Heritage to triumph by two shots.

“It’s been great,” said Grace, who closed with a superb five-under-par 66 at the Harbour Town course on Hilton Head Island. “I’ve been playing well and Hilton Head was just the cherry on top of the cake.

“I know that I can win and now it’s just trying to push on from here.”


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