Branden Grace – photo LIV Golf via Getty Chris Trotman

South Africans have won the opening two events of the LIV Invitational Series with Branden Grace taking out the second of the series today in Portland in Oregon by two shots over Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz with Americans Patrick Reed and Dustin Johnson sharing 3rd place honours, another two shots back.

The third and final round of the US$25 million event developed into essentially a three-way battle for much of the round between Grace, Ortiz and Johnson although Reed entered late calculations with an eagle and a birdie at his final two holes for a round of 67 to set the clubhouse mark.

Behind on the golf course, Grace and Ortiz were locked in battle but, although he birdied the opening three holes of today’s final round  to take the lead, Ortiz’ birdie run then came to a halt. After a frustrating ten consecutive pars he would finally hole a lengthy birdie putt at the last to confirm his second place and provide his team with a share of third place also.

Grace and Ortiz were still locked at 10 under through 14 holes but then would come three consecutive birdies by the South African to take the lead including a chip in from behind the green at the 16th to provide an unassailable cushion.

Grace earns US$4 million for the individual honours and another US$375,000 for his share of runner-up place in the teams’ event.

“I started working with a new coach towards the end of the last year, and I really felt that at Valero Texas that the swing has come along and started playing some nice golf,” said Grace when explaining his improved form in 2022.

“Obviously you need to get the low rounds to get the confidence, and I felt really comfortable in London, managed to have a good tournament today.

“I had a great Sunday actually at London and took a lot from that into this week, and the form stayed there, played really well, and then obviously today was one shot after the other was just — fell into place.

“But on Sunday, I played with DJ at London, as well, on the Sunday and played really nicely, and just kind of found a groove. 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.”

It wasn’t a good week for the five-man Australian contingent with Matt Jones doing best when he finished in a share of 16th place at even par. Mind you, don’t feel too sorry for the Arizona based Sydneysider. Jones earned a cheque for US$225,000 so has not exactly left Portland empty handed.

Travis Smyth might not have had the lucrative week he had in London but he still pockets a cheque for just over US$150,000 for his share of 29th to add to the US$500,000 he earned in London and the $US220,000 he earned a week earlier in Newcastle in an associated event which allowed him a start in London.

Wade Ormsby tied for 35th in the 48 man field and will earn US$145,000, while Blake Windred (44th) and Jed Morgan (48th) struggled all week but will still take him a cheque for around US$120,000.

The series received a further boost in their pursuit of stronger fields with the announcement today that Paul Casey will join the field for the next event in New Jersey on July 29th.


Matt Jones led the five Australians, finishing in 29th place – photo Steve Sykes Getty