Golf - Local hero Grace aiming for Majors

Local hero Branden Grace, who exceeded expectations last season by winning four European tour events after graduating from the Qualifying School, now plans to focus on the four Majors.

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Golf - Durban first for defending champion Grace
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South Africa's Branden Grace (Reuters)

The 24-year-old South African is one of the favourites for the inaugural Nelson Mandela championship which starts the Race to Dubai on Thursday.

"This year I will be more focused on the Majors knowing that I have secured my four spots for them. It will be the same as this year, just finding my feet again.

"I will be in the States and it's starting all over again. Getting the first win and moving from there, because you're playing events you have never played before," he told a news conference on Wednesday.

Grace, whose record last season was the best by a graduate from the Qualifying School, said he did not feel any particular pressure.

"I'm not particularly worried about it. I want to win badly, but the way my season went - I played well, I was in contention a lot and I felt like I didn't make a lot of mistakes," he said.

"When I was in contention and still didn't win I still enjoyed the game. I'm playing the best golf of my life and I feel it's just around the corner. Hopefully the first one will be a major."

The event is also sanctioned by the local Sunshine Tour and is the penultimate one of their season. The winner of the Order of Merit title, which Grace currently heads, is granted a place in the elite 12-man field for the Nedbank Golf Challenge the following year.

"To get your name on the Order of Merit trophy is something on its own. You have got the likes of Charl (Schwartzel) and Ernie (Els) on there, and it's another good thing to put your name on the record books for," Grace said.

"If you ask any guy here what they'd like to do, it's to play in the Nedbank.

"The history around it, you always dream of being in the 12-man field and to go out and play there. Now I just have to play my way in there."

Rain has saturated Durban with more than a year's worth of falling in the past 50 days. More rain is forecast for the weekend, raising doubts about whether the tournament will be completed.

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