Steve takes a look at the South African challenge at Augusta and he fancies the in-form Branden Grace can do him a favour at a nice price this year...
“Given he’s been in fine fettle already this season, winning three titles in the last four months, Branden Grace looks the one to side with.”
There are just five South Africans in the US Masters field this year and two of them look fairly easy to dismiss - the 2008 winner, Trevor Immelman, and one of my all time favourites, Ernie Els.
Trevor's career has nosedived of late and it's almost impossible to imagine him contending this week and although it pains me, I feel the same way about the Big Easy. Ernie is without a top-ten anywhere since he finished fifth in Hong Kong last October and before he finished a respectable 13th in the Arnold Palmer Invitational a month ago, on a course he really likes, he'd missed four cuts in-a-row.
Louis Oosthuizen traded at odds-on here in 2012 before losing a playoff to Bubba Watson but in his other five starts, he's missed the cut four times - as he did in Houston just last week. He suffers quite badly with persistent back injuries and looks one to swerve - as does the inconsistent 2011 Champion, Charl Schwartzel...
Schwartzel's form has been hit and miss since he threw away his national title back in January and he failed to make the weekend last year. Of course, major champions like Schwartzel and Oosty are always capable of bouncing back but Augusta isn't the sort of place to suddenly find your game and given he's been in fine fettle already this season, winning three titles in the last four months, Branden Grace looks the one to side with.
Grace romped to victory in the European Tour's Alfred Dunhill Championship just before Christmas before winning in Qatar a month later and he won the competitive Dimension Data on the Sunshine Tour in February. He was 18th on debut here two years ago and missed the cut 12 months ago after a disappointing opening round of 84 but I can see him performing well this time around and he's also one of my five selections in the outright market.
Branden Grace @ 4.57/2 or better
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