Grace captures first PGA title

The Associated Press

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C.—Branden Grace has had his share of big moments.
He believes winning the RBC Heritage is his biggest, by far.
The 27-year-old South African had won 10 times overseas, finished in the top five last year in the U.S. Open and PGA Championship, and went 5-0 for the International team at the Presidents Cup.
Yesterday, he shot a five-under 66 to overtake Luke Donald for his first title on the PGA Tour.
“This really puts the cherry on top of the cake,” Grace said.
“And I’m excited for things to start.”
Grace already has fashioned a very accomplished career. He’s 14th in the world ranking, and three of his seven career wins on the European Tour have come since 2015.
“I can tick this one off the box and head into the next couple of majors trying to win it,” he noted.
“I have one notch, I’ve done it before, and I can do it again.”
Grace trailed leader Luke Donald by three shots when the round began, but wiped out that deficit by the turn with five birdies.
Grace took the lead for good with consecutive birdies on 12 and 13.
He overcame a final challenge on the 16th hole—rolling in a 12-foot par putt to maintain a three-shot lead.
A hole behind, Donald lipped out a birdie try. He could get no closer.
Grace finished at nine-under 275, two shots ahead of Donald and Russell Knox.
Donald shot 71 yesterday while Knox had a 67.
Grace earned $1,062,000 and a PGA Tour exemption through the 2017-18 season, which he said was a weight off his mind and will allow him to comfortably contend without worrying about keeping his tour card.
He also became the latest to rally past hard-luck leader Donald at Harbour Town Golf Links.
The Englishman has finished second four times and third twice in the past eight events here.
Brandt Snedeker shot a final-round 64 to catch Donald and win in a playoff in 2011.
Matt Kuchar shot a 64 in 2014—overtaking Donald for the win with a chip-in from the bunker on the 72nd hole.
Donald said Saturday after taking a one-shot lead that he’d need to be aggressive and make birdies.
That did not happen. He settled for pars on the opening six holes while Grace moved in front with four birdies on the same stretch.
“I think I’ve got to put myself three or four behind on Sunday,” Donald quipped.
“Leading doesn’t seem to be working out for me.”
Graham DeLaet, of Weyburn, Sask., was the top Canadian—finishing tied for 14th at two-under 282.
Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C. moved up 25 spots on the leaderboard to tie for 30th following a four-under in his final round.
Bryson DeChambeau, the former SMU star who won the NCAA and U.S. Amateur last year, tied for fourth in his first event since turning pro, four shots behind Grace after a 68 yesterday.
Top-ranked Jason Day rebounded from a season-worst 79 on Saturday with a 68 to tie for 23rd at one-under.