Grace: Els predicted Heritage victory


Sometimes a little confidence from a hall-of-famer can make all the difference.

Branden Grace lists fellow South African Ernie Els among his earliest golf influences, and the two speak frequently at PGA Tour events. Els was a big influence in getting Grace to tee it up at the RBC Heritage for the first time last year, when he played on a sponsor invite.

"He thought it's [a course] that's really going to suit my eye," Grace said. "It reminds me a little bit of Fancourt Links back home, because it's linksy. You really have to see your shots. You have to hit a couple different shots, not shots that you hit often."

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The two met once again earlier this week, when Els instilled the 27-year-old with an extra bit of positive thinking.

"We actually spoke on Wednesday; we went to his house for coffee," Grace said. "And he told me this is one event that I'm going to win a couple times in my career. It was nice to hear from a legend like that."

Grace finished T-7 at Harbour Town Golf Links last year, and Els' words proved prescient Sunday when Grace rallied for a two-shot win. It gave him his first PGA Tour victory, and it also gave him a bit of an edge over Els, whose best result at this event was a runner-up finish to Boo Weekley in 2007.

The two spoke on the phone minutes after Grace finished his round, and Els was quick to remind the newly minted champ of his sage words from earlier in the week.

"Obviously Ernie said, 'I told you you were going to win it a couple times,'" Grace said. "It's nice to hear those things."