THINK YOUNG PLAY HARD
ON TURNING PRO AT 17
There was criticism when I turned pro after winning the 2014 Lytham Trophy in the UK, and subsequently as my career did not go as expected. But I don’t regret the decision.Yes, I was really young, but the four years of experience I have gained is invaluable. People say you must be more professional in everything you do — that’s bullsh**t! I started working out, and tweaked things to make myself look good, and lost focus on my golf swing. Then I lost con dence mentally. That makes you shift from arriving at a tournament with a winning mentality, to one where you are just thinking about making the cut.
ON ALMOST RUNNING OUT OF MONEY
Playing on the European Challenge Tour will toughen you up. Di erent languages, currencies, visas, food, playing conditions and a host of other challenges will test your focus. I was down to my last £200 during an event in Belgium, knowing that I owed my caddie £1 200 and I needed to get to France for the next event.You learn quickly about life when you are struggling.Try being a 19-year-old in a hotel in the Czech Republic with bad WiFi.
ON A FORTUNATE AIRPORT MEETING
While travelling through Europe in 2016 I bumped into Ian Watts, a former TaylorMade rep (the company I signed with when turning pro). He had started a new management company — Modest Golf — with Mark McDonnell which originated from One Direction superstar Niall Horan’s music management company Modest! Ian o ered to help if he could and managed to get me into the Bridgestone Challenge in England. I nished second which got me into more events and I landed up signing with them. There have only seven golf clients, one of which is fellow South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout.
ON A SUPERSTAR FRIEND
Niall Horan loves golf. He and Rory McIlroy are good friends and Niall has caddied for his Irish compatriot at the Masters Par 3 Contest. I’ve played golf with Niall and he is very supportive of my career. With over 20 million Instagram followers, it doesn’t hurt my own pro le when you are tagged in a photo with him!
ON HIS SUPPORT STRUCTURE
I’ve always been a fighter, always willing to grind it out, and will never give up. Maybe that’s why my matchplay record was so good as an amateur. My parents (Steven and Heidi) taught me that from a young age. They have been incredible, always positive, always encouraging – never negative. My dad was my only coach until three years ago when I met Peter Berman in Knysna. Peter is low-key – most people don’t even know he is Branden Grace’s coach – and we work together brilliantly.
ON BEING INTERROGATED WITH AN AK-47 IN KAZAKHSTAN
Upon arriving in Almaty for the 2016 Kazakhstan Open a landing card was inserted into my passport which I didn't give much thought to. During the week it fell out and when I tried to leave the country (on a 5am flight) they demanded to see the card. I had to take a taxi back to the hotel and then to a military base, where I was searched and questioned by guards with AK-47s. My parents were trying to contact the SA embassy, but eventually they let me go and I departed on the 5pm flight. Don’t lose your landing card in Kazakhstan!
ON 2018 PLANS
Winning the Sunshine Tour Q School is a huge relief and I can now plan my schedule for the year. My management company has secured seven invites on the Euro Challenge Tour, but I will only travel over there when there is a break on the Sunshine Tour.