Five things to know about Branden Grace (who’s challenging at the PGA Championship)

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KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – Branden Grace is having a day at the 103rd PGA Championship. One day after turning 33, the South African was going low at the windswept Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort until finding the water on the tricky No. 17.

Here are five things to know as Grace finishes up his second round near the top of the leaderboard after the early wave of players.

He's a winner many times over

Branden Grace Puerto Rico Open
Branden Grace Puerto Rico Open

Branden Grace holds the winner's trophy after winning the Puerto Rico Open at Grand Reserve Country Club on February 28, 2021 in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. (Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Grace is no stranger to the winner's circle. He's won nine times on the European Tour and twice on the PGA Tour, most recently at the Puerto Rico Open in March. He's also represented his country on Team International in the Presidents Cup.

COVID case (part 1)

PGA: Barracuda Championship - First Round
PGA: Barracuda Championship - First Round

Branden Grace talking to his caddy during the first round of the Barracuda Championship golf tournament at Old Greenwood. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

Grace tested positive in August while competing in the 2020 Barracuda Championship. That forced him to withdraw from the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park while he quarantined for two weeks.

COVID case (part 2)

Barracuda Championship - Round One
Barracuda Championship - Round One

Branden Grace plays his shot from the 10th tee during the first round of the Barracuda Championship at Tahoe Mountain Club's Old Greenwood Golf Course on July 30, 2020, in Truckee, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Grace dealt with minimal symptoms, but his father wasn't so fortunate. He died from a bout with COVID in February. “He was a rock in my life and career and I am going to miss him dearly,” Grace said via a post on his Twitter account. “I will be taking some time off to be with family. Stay Safe.” Not long after he returned, he won in Puerto Rico and dedicated the title to his father.

Major moment

Branden Grace-British Open
Branden Grace-British Open

Branden Grace of South Africa walks up the 18th fairway during the third round of the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale on July 22, 2017, in Southport, England. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Grace is no stranger to major championship leaderboards. He threatened to win the 2015 U.S. Open before he drove out of bounds at the 16th hole on Sunday, made double bogey, and finished T-4. His best major finish? T-3 at the 2015 PGA. But he's best known for shooting 62 at Royal Birkdale at the 2017 British Open, the lowest score at a major by a male golfer.

Pete Dye Fan Club member

Branden Grace
Branden Grace

Branden Grace tees off on the third hole during the final round of the 2016 RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links.

Grace's maiden PGA Tour victory came at the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links, one of Dye's earliest works. He also finished T-3 at the 2015 PGA at Whistling Straits, another Dye layout hard by Lake Michigan in Wisconsin. So far, he seems to be having another love affair with one of Dye's masterpieces at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. TPC Sawgrass, home of the Players? Not so much – he missed the cut this year and has never finished inside the top 40 – but definitely an affinity for Dye courses, nonetheless.

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