PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Branden Grace is still wondering what all the hype over the Bear Trap is all about.
Playing the Honda Classic for the first time, Grace closed his round with four straight birdies - including red numbers on holes 15, 16 and 17 that comprise the famed stretch - to shoot a round of 5-under 65.
'I gave myself chances, but the putter started heating up,' he told reporters after the round. 'Obviously finishing with four birdies in a row was great. You won't think of making that any day on this golf course.'
Holding a share of the lead along with Canadian Graham DeLaet when his round concluded, Grace shared that he received a bit of a warning from a fellow South African regarding the closing stretch at PGA National.
'I sat down with Charl (Schwartzel) last week at the Match Play and he said, 'Listen, the four finishing holes are quite a beast out there,'' he explained. 'So I was a little bit nervous coming here.'
An effective putter helped to assuage any nerves, though, as Grace needed only 25 putts to complete his opening round, including just one on each of the final four holes.
'Just had to try to give yourself some opportunities, and that's what I did,' added Grace, whose final four birdie putts all came from inside 19 feet. 'I hit four good putts in a row.'
One of seven South Africans currently ranked in the top 52 in the world, Grace noted a sense of camaraderie that has helped many of his fellow countrymen improve in recent months.
'Everybody is feeding off everybody at the moment,' he noted. 'It's nice, when one of your friends plays well, you want to play well, as well, so that's been good.'