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Branden Grace set for TPC San Antonio

April 21, 2016

South Africa's Branden Grace arrived at TPC San Antonio brimming with confidence after a first US PGA Tour triumph, eager to tackle what could be a tough week at the Valero Texas Open.

The South African, a 10-time winner internationally before notching his first US tour victory on Sunday at Hilton Head, is hoping that success will translate not only this week but beyond.

"I can really sit back, not really relax, but enjoy it a little bit more and really start preparing for a couple of things that I really want -- to do well in the majors, in the WGCs and then kind of push to get those big boxes ticked off,” Grace said Wednesday.

Far from feeling fatigued in the wake of his RBC Heritage run, in which he defeated former world number one Luke Donald of England and Scotland's Russell Knox by two strokes, Grace said he was feeling energized.

"I actually feel quite relaxed and quite rested up and excited to get on the golf course and see what it has to offer this year," he said.

Rainy weather in south Texas will likely make for different conditions on the Oaks course than golfers faced recently.

Grace recalled strong winds and a firm, fast course the past two years, but predicted that this year "it's going to be a little bit softer and obviously playing a lot longer".

"It's going to be a completely different test, but the golf course still has it's own obstacles," he said. "You really have to hit it straight and obviously everybody knows there are some funky greens out here. You really have to hit it and place the ball well on the greens to give yourself some opportunities."

American Jimmy Walker won last year, his second title of 2015 moving him into the top 10 in the world rankings for the first time.

In front of a hometown crowd that included friends and family, Walker beat fellow Texan Jordan Spieth by four strokes.

But Walker hasn't won since, and said he needs to sharpen up his short game if he wants to improve on the three top-10 finishes he has had this season.

"I just haven’t been getting up and down enough, not pitching it close enough," Walker said. "Bunker game has been struggling a little bit, maybe from a little lack of practice.

"I'm focusing on different stuff and need to get back to not making any bogeys," he added. "I'm just kind of wasting too many shots. I don’t think it's from off the tee or approach shots or anything. Just mostly pitching and putting."

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