It wasn’t a great week for anyone on last week’s International Presidents Cup team, but Branden Grace held his own against the powerful American team.
He halved his singles match with Zach Johnson and went 1-2-2 overall to earn two of the team’s 11 points, second on the team behind fellow South African and playing partner Louis Oosthuizen’s 2.5.
Grace may face shorter odds of winning this week at the Alfred Dunhill Links than what the Internationals faced at Liberty National. In fact, Grace won here in 2012 and is 4-for-5 making the cut with three top-30s.
The 29-year-old has played well on links courses this year with a T15 at the Scottish Open and a T6 at The Open Championship, site of his record-breaking 62. Grace tied for 25th in his last stroke play start at the Dell Technologies Championship a month ago.
Grace is in jeopardy of going winless for the first time since 2013. With that said, he’s still played well enough to stick in the world top 50. Three made cuts in majors, three top-10s and only three missed cuts make for a solid year. Adding a late win could make it a great year.
Fitzpatrick is hitting his stride heading into Scotland this week. He followed up a win at the Omega European Masters last month with a T11 in his home country last week British Masters. The 23-year-old carded four rounds in the 60s with just four bogeys at Close House.
The fall and winter have been comfortable times for Fitzpatrick. Seven of his top 10 career highest finishes, based on the Official World Golf Ranking, have come during golf’s unofficial offseason, if you will, between September and February.
The checks cash the same no matter when you earn them, and, despite an 0-for-3 cuts made record at the Alfred Dunhill Links, Fitzpatrick is trending toward picking up another big one this week.
His trusty putting stroke (32nd on the European Tour in putts per round) likely won’t be as big of a weapon this week at an event where the greens aren’t the course’s main defense. His short game, though, is just as good (15th scrambling) and his ball striking (26th GIR) will keep him from making big numbers this week. Fitzpatrick has played nine rounds in a row without making double bogey or worse.