“S***, this is fun! How good has this been? I’ve never experienced anything like this.” The words of Branden Grace after he banked the $4m prize pot for winning the second LIV Golf Invitational event in Portland, Oregon on Saturday.
For the second time in two events, Grace shot a final round 65 – at the Centurion Club it was enough for third but in Portland on Saturday it earned him a spot on the podium.
Pumpkin Ridge is a challenging course throughout with a number of difficult par-threes and a run-in of two par-4’s, a par-5 and a concluding par-4.
Grace, though holed a lengthy birdie on the tenth and the 13th – one of just two birdies on that hole on Saturday – on his way to posting a score of five-under on the back nine alone.
His seven-under 65 handed the South African a 13-under score for the three-day event, two strokes ahead of Carlos Ortiz in second and Patrick Reed in third.
But there’s more to the LIV Golf Invitational than the individual competition; team scores are totted up at the conclusion of the 54th hole and there’s further reward for the best group.
Grace and his Stingers
Grace’s win helped the Stinger GC – Grace, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Hennie Du Plessis – to second on the team podium but a third and fourth place finish for Aces GC’s Reed and Dustin Johnson – Reed beat his team mate in a third-place tiebreaker – handed their team – alongside Talor Gooch and Pat Perez –the $3m team title – the Fireballs GC – Sergio Garcia, Abraham Ancer, Carlos Ortiz and Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra – came in third.
“I played with DJ [Johnson] in London, as well, and played really nicely, and just kind of found a groove,” said Grace. “I’ve been feeling really comfortable. I’ve been hitting the shots that I see and things like that, and that’s really important and gives you the confidence.
“Today was nothing different. From the first hole I hit the ball great. I made a couple of nice putts when it mattered, and obviously things go your way when you win a golf tournament.”
“Obviously Branden played really well,” Johnson said. “But I did get it back to where I was within one with six or seven holes to go, and then he decided to go on a little tear there birdieing every hole coming in.”
The £200m Saudi Arabian-backed golf league moves on to Bedminster at the end of this month before tournaments in the likes of Bangkok, Jeddah and Miami.