South Africa's Branden Grace says he can feel his late father's presence with him as he battles the gusting winds of Kiawah Island's Ocean Course at the PGA Championship.
And whether it's an unseen assist or simply stellar shotmaking, the 33-year-old from Pretoria finds himself in contention for his first major title.
Grace fired a one-under par 71 Friday to stand alongside compatriot Christiaan Bezuidenhout on three-under 141 after 36 holes, two behind co-leaders Phil Mickelson and Louis Oosthuizen.
Grace, who missed last year's PGA after contracting Covid-19, lost his father Peter to Covid-19 in January, calling his dad the rock in his life.
When Grace won his first US PGA title in five years at the Puerto Rico Open in February, he dedicated the emotional victory to his father.
"I believe that what happened, the sadness, there's a lot of good to follow," Grace said Friday.
"I know my old man is with me. He's out there grinding it as well. So I'm just playing golf. I'm enjoying it and nice to have the family out there just to stay calm on the other side of it."
Grace had endured a five-year victory drought since taking his only other US PGA title, at the 2016 Heritage tournament, played only an hour's drive south of where this week's major showdown is staged.
Grace fired the lowest round in major golf history with a 62 at the 2017 British Open, going eight-under par at Royal Birkdale.
And the world number 92 has no doubt he belongs among the game's elite.
"I believe I should be out here. I believe I should be a top-30 player in the world and I believe I should win. It was nice to get over that hurdle again," Grace said.
"I've contended in these big events before. There's no reason why I can't contend in them now, especially around a golf course like this. It's just literally getting the ball low, getting it on the ground and letting it run and be creative around the greens and really commit to what you want to do."
Grace birdied the par-5 second and seventh holes, chipped in from 70 feet to birdie the par-4 10th and birdied 13 before finding water off the tee at the par-3 17th and stumbling to a double bogey-bogey finish.
"It's tough. I was grinding out there. Trying to stay alive. I knew I was playing well and just kind of waiting for that one bad thing to happen," Grace said.
"Even with that bad couple of holes, I still got the most out of my round."
Preparing for the worst
Grace has worked with a psychologist to handle hardships on the course - like hitting into the water on 17 - and how to better shake them off and refocus on his round.
"I've worked hard mentally with my psychologist and just preparing for the worst - if it happens, just getting on with it - and I've done that pretty well so far," Grace said.
"Mentally, I don't think I did anything wrong. I stood up there, I picked my target, I hit the shot that I wanted to, but it just didn't come off. You have to move on, get to the drop zone, and carry on.
"I'm probably going to have a few more scenarios like that over the weekend if it carries on playing as tough as it does. I just need to back myself up, trust myself, and just hit the shots that I see."
Second-round scores on Friday in the 2021 PGA Championship on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, South Carolina (USA unless noted, par-72):
139 - Phil Mickelson 70-69, Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 71-68
140 - Brooks Koepka 69-71
141 - Branden Grace (RSA) 70-71, Christiaan Bezuidenhout (RSA) 71-70, Hideki Matsuyama (JPN) 73-68
142 - Corey Conners (CAN) 67-75, Gary Woodland 70-72, Kevin Streelman 70-72, Im Sung-jae (KOR) 70-72, Paul Casey (ENG) 71-71
143 - Richy Werenski 71-72, Joaquin Niemann (CHI) 71-72, Harry Higgs 72-71, Martin Laird (SCO) 70-73, Jason Kokrak 71- 72, Bryson DeChambeau 72-71, Charley Hoffman 73-70
144 - Matt Fitzpatrick (ENG) 73-71, Padraig Harrington (IRL) 71-73, Ian Poulter (ENG) 74-70, Shane Lowry (IRL) 73-71, Keegan Bradley 69-75, Viktor Hovland (NOR) 69-75
145 - Daniel van Tonder (RSA) 75-70, Cameron Smith (AUS) 72-73, Will Zalatoris 71-74, Bubba Watson 72-73, Lee Westwood (ENG) 73-72, Tom Lewis (ENG) 71-74, Collin Morikawa 70-75
146 - Abraham Ancer (MEX) 74-72, Tony Finau 74-72, Patrick Cantlay 73-73, Tyrrell Hatton (ENG) 71-75, Scottie Scheffler 72-74, Matt Wallace (ENG) 73-73, Brad Marek 73-73
147 - Rasmus Hjgaard (DEN) 71-76, Jon Rahm (ESP) 72-75, Carlos Ortiz (MEX) 73-74, Justin Rose (ENG) 72-75, Steve Stricker 76-71, Cam Davis (AUS) 69-78, Joel Dahmen 74-73, Rickie Fowler 71-76, Jimmy Walker 73-74, Stewart Cink 71-76, Rory McIlroy (NIR) 75-72
148 - Adam Hadwin (CAN) 77-71, Russell Henley 78-70, Daniel Berger 79-69, Jordan Spieth 73-75, Lucas Herbert (AUS) 76-72, Dean Burmester (RSA) 74-74, Matt Jones (AUS) 73-75, An Byeong-hun (KOR) 73-75, Robert MacIntyre (SCO) 75-73, Danny Willett (ENG) 77-71, Jason Scrivener (AUS) 73-75, Aaron Wise 69-79, Brian Gay 77-71
149 - Robert Streb 77-72, Wyndham Clark 75-74, Sam Horsfield (ENG) 69-80, Jason Day (AUS) 74-75, Patrick Reed 74-75, Billy Horschel 77-72, Webb Simpson 75-74, Ben Cook 72-77, Talor Gooch 71-78, Brendan Steele 75-74, Harold Varner 73-76, Garrick Higgo (RSA) 73-76, Tom Hoge 74-75, Henrik Stenson (SWE) 73-76, Harris English, 75-74, Alex Noren (SWE) 77-72, Emiliano Grillo (ARG) 77-72, Kim Chan (KOR) 75-74, Denny McCarthy 73-76
The following players missed the cut
150 - Andy Sullivan (ENG) 73-77, Brian Harman 75-75, Antoine Rozner (FRA) 79-71, Chez Reavie 77-73, Sergio Garcia (ESP) 77-73, Dustin Johnson 76-74, Victor Perez (FRA) 78-72, Mackenzie Hughes (CAN) 75-75, Marc Leishman (AUS) 74-76, Adam Scott (AUS) 78-72, Xander Schauffele 73-77, Justin Thomas 75-75, Peter Malnati 78-72
151 - Kim Si-woo (KOR) 75-76, Sebastin Munoz (COL) 77-74, Rich Beem 74-77, Tommy Fleetwood (ENG) 76-75, Maverick McNealy 78-73, Brendon Todd 74-77, Thomas Detry (BEL) 76-75
152 - Danny Balin 79-73, Chris Kirk 76-76, Cameron Tringale 70-82, Dylan Frittelli (RSA) 73-79, Jason Dufner 71-81, Zach Johnson 74-78, Ryan Palmer 74-78, Martin Kaymer (GER) 75-77, Lanto Griffin 74-78
153 - Jim Herman 78-75, J.T. Poston 75-78, Greg Koch 76-77, Bernd Wiesberger (AUT) 78-75, Hudson Swafford 77-76, Erik van Rooyen (RSA) 72-81
154 - Kurt Kitayama 77-77, Sami Valimaki (FIN) 78-76, Max Homa 78-76, Matt Kuchar 77-77, Adam Long 72-82, George Coetzee (RSA) 75-79, John Catlin 75-79, Kevin Kisner 77-77, Kalle Samooja (FIN) 74-80, Brett Walker 77-77
155 - Pete Ballo 80-75, Lee Kyoung-hoon (KOR) 78-77, Charl Schwartzel (RSA) 76-79
156 - Tim Pearce 79-77, Aaron Rai (ENG) 81-75, Ben Polland 76-80, Mark Geddes (ENG) 75-81
157 - Jazz Janewattananond (THA) 77-80, Rob Labritz 76-81, Brandon Hagy 77-80, Kevin Na 79-78
159 - Cameron Champ 82-77, Stuart Smith 82-77, Rikuya Hoshino (JPN) 76-83
160 - Thomas Pieters (BEL) 76-84
161 - Alex Beach 75-86, Shaun Micheel 81-80, Brandon Stone 78-83, Takumi Kanaya (JPN) 75-86
162 - Patrick Rada 76-86
163 - Sonny Skinner 85-78
164 - Larkin Gross 80-84
165 - Frank Bensel 86-79, Joe Summerhays 81-84, Omar Uresti 82-83, Derek Holmes 79-86
170 - Tyler Collet 88-82
171 - John Daly 85-86
WD - Sam Burns
DQ - Yang Yong-eun (KOR)