Tiger Woods will be glad to be rid of the sight of Branden Grace after the South African upstaged the 14-time Major winner on day three of the WGC – Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio.
Woods and Grace, both with three wins apiece this year on either side of the Atlantic, played the first two rounds of the $US 8.5m event together before heading to the weekend at two over par.
It meant that the duo were again partners on day three around the windswept Firestone course.
However the 24-year old easily got the better of the 12-year older Woods early on day three, and in front of sell out crowds braving the hot and humid conditions at Firestone.
Grace played the outward nine in six under par compared to Woods who could manage just one birdie.
However Grace, who is making his Bridgestone debut, walked the back nine in one over parto move to four under par and now two clear of Woods.
“When we signed the scorecards onFriday, we thought, it’s going to happen again for day three,” said the very affable South African.
“I haven’t played with him before, but now to have three rounds is a bit unreal.
“I’ve learned a hell of a lot from playing with him. The way he plays shots, the wayhe handles himself and things like that has been great.
“He’s there because he is the best in the world. I’ve seen it now, and I think people really criticize him that criticize him is wrong.
“Tiger’sone hell of a guy, and he’s pretty much the nicest guy I’ve ever played with.”
Grace was then quizzed by www.golfbytourmiss.com if was naturally nervous on Thursday in teeing it up alongside a player who has won the Bridgestone Invitational on eight occasions.
“I was really nervous the first day and who wouldn’t be,” said Grace smiling.
“The first two holes was a little bit nerve wracking, but I think it would have beena lot worse if I got off to a bad start. I think I got off to a par par start, which was nice, and then you can just settle down and relax and play golf.
“And then when things happen, the type of player and the type of guy he is, it just made it nice to play with him.”
Grace will commence the final round lying in a share of 13th place on four under par, and in contrast to the first three days his final round partners will be Scotland’s Martin Laird and American Bill Haas.
The threat of not only strong winds but thunderstorms has forced officials to move the first tee time on day four to 8am while the leading trio of Jim Furyk (11-under par), Louis Oosthuizen (10-under par) and Keegan Bradley (7-under par) will head off the first tee at 10am.