Branden Grace wins the tartan jacket — and an automatic invite to the 2017 Masters

by jovan1984

RBC Heritage 2016 champion Branden Grace is applauded as he tries on his tartan jacket during an award ceremony after the final round of the 48th annual RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing golf tournament on Sunday, April 17, 2016 at Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Hilton Head Island — He missed the cut last week at the Masters.

In 51 weeks, he’ll get his chance at redemption.

Branden Grace fired a 66 on Sunday, the lowest round of the day, to storm to victory at the RBC Heritage at nine under par and earn an automatic invite to the biggest golf tournament at the Augusta (Ga.) National Golf Club in 2017.

This is Mr. Grace’s first on the PGA Tour, though he had been through the fire before. He has won 10 times internationally, notched his first PGA Tour top-10 in Hilton Head Island last year while playing on a sponsor’s exemption and followed with top-five finishes in half of the four majors.

Hoisting a trophy on US soil was all that remained, and Mr. Grace, did that Sunday on the 18th green overlooking Calibogue Sound, a tartan jacket draped on his shoulders, with the automatic invitation from the Augusta National to play in the 2017 Masters in his hand.

“Now getting this victory, I can settle down a bit and forget about just keeping the (PGA Tour) card and that kind of stuff,” said Mr. Grace, who earned an estimated $1,062,000 with the win. “And now I can really just tick this one off the box and head into maybe the next couple of majors and trying to win it knowing that I have won out here before, now I can do it again.”

Russell Knox finished second and Luke Donald, the third round leader, wound up third after his even par final round failed to close the deal. They finished at seven under par.

“To be in contention, have a chance, that’s what you want to do,” said Mr. Donald, now 0-3 at Harbour Town after holding leads. “You keep putting yourself in those positions. That’s the first one I’ve had this year, so I’m excited to hopefully build off this for next week.”

Mr. Grace, who until this year played on the PGA’s European Tour, recently bought a home in Palm Beach County, Fla., and will be married in November to fiancée Nieke Coetzee.

“And this really gets you in the mood to settle down a little bit and just step into gear whenever you can,” he said.

Island Packet