Tim's Take: Grace steps up in status - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Tim's Take: Grace steps up in status

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

He wasn't the guy people thought he was when he won the Heritage. And now Branden Grace is a different guy since winning the Heritage.

"Yeah, it's awesome,” said Grace. “I’m obviously a little more relaxed. You get to just get out here and enjoy it and not worry about keeping your card.”

He didn't really have to worry about that at Harbour Town, either.

Although little known, Grace had already accomplished plenty before last month.

He is the 11th ranked player in the world now, but was 14th that Sunday in Hilton Head, with five top-25 finishes already on the season leading up to his first U.S, victory.

But beyond providing stability, the Heritage win has improved Grace's status, the way the tournament has for pretty much anyone who has won it.

"Americans, the do like a winner, so it's nice,” he said. “The crowds have been great ever since the win.”

Grace's arrival in American golf has been reaffirmed the last two days, when the South African has been part of the best group in the best field on the PGA Tour.

He was the C player in his Players Championship threesome, but only because A and B were 1 and 2 in the World Golf Rankings.

"Even a day like today,” Grace said Thursday, “there was a bit more for Jason and Jordan, but there's still the guys out there for myself. So, it's nice to see those guys coming through.”

And Grace thinks he might get more than an ego boost from playing alongside Jordan Spieth and Jason Day for the first two rounds in Ponte Vedra.

"Obviously, if you play in front of the big crowds, you learn from it and get used to it,” said Grace. “I think it's a good stepping stone for the majors and things like that.”

Golf fans have learned a lot about the Heritage champion since he earned that title.

And if he keeps his current company, there could be a lot more to learn about him in the future.

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