Grace salutes 'awesome' draw
Article posted: 02 August 2012
You're going to have a little bit of pressure playing with Woods but it’s something you just have to deal with
He already has three wins on the European Tour this season, but Branden Grace will realise another dream when he makes his debut at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron this week.
Grace, who triumphed at the Joburg Open and Volvo Golf Champions in January and Volvo China Open in April, plays alongside 14-time major winner Tiger Woods in the first two rounds at Firestone Country Club.
The duo tee off at 1.50 and 10.00 local time respectively.
"It is an awesome draw, definitely," said Grace. "I'd heard a rumour at the beginning of the week that that's what they were going to try to do because we're the only two guys that have won three times in the year. But I didn't really think it was going to happen.
"I played with [Phil] Mickelson at the US Open, as well, so I think the experience is there, and obviously you're going to have a little bit of pressure playing with Woods but it’s something you just have to deal with.
"It's unreal, he's my idol. He's been my role model since I started playing golf so it is a little bit of a dream come true."
Grace has enjoyed a stellar rise since progressing from European Tour Qualifying School last year, and currently sits ninth in the Race to Dubai.
But the 24-year-old says his approach ahead of tournaments has not changed.
"I've been trying to do things exactly the same as I've always done them," he said. "I think that was a key when I won in those three events.
"Obviously the bigger the events, the more you want to do but you automatically put in more without even noticing it. But generally I’m just trying to stick to my game and stick to what's working."
Grace, who played his first World Golf Championship event at the WGC-Cadillac Championship in March, makes his debut at the US PGA Championship next week. But for now, his focus is on this week’s tournament.
"I think the course is only going to get trickier as the week goes on," he said. "It's still pretty wet out here, but the greens are running at 13 and a half already, so they're lightning out here.
"If you get on the wrong side of the pin, you're dead. But it's great; I've been playing in good company the last two days and in the practice rounds, so I’m trying to get a little bit of experience out of that and try to enjoy the experience."
World number four Lee Westwood has been paired with Rickie Fowler, teeing off at 10.10 and 14.00, while Louis Oosthuizen is out at 13.30 and 9.40 alongside Hunter Mahan.
Charl Schwartzel plays with Johnson Wagner at 9.40 and 13.30 and Jeev Milkha Singh is alongside Zach Johnson at 9.50 and 13.40.
Simon Dyson has been paired with Rafael Cabrera Bello, teeing off at 12.30 and 8.40. Joost Luiten is out at 12.50 and 9.00 alongside Oliver Bekker.