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Good Grace to honour Nelson Mandela with golf victory

Branden Grace, Coral’s joint 16/1 favourite, is one of a host of South Africans who will be busting a gut to win the Nelson Mandela Golf Championship in honour of their iconic former President.

This final event of the 2013 European Tour season was in danger of being cancelled when it was announced that Mandela’s state funeral would be held next Sunday, but instead the tournament has been brought forward to start on Wednesday and finish on Saturday.

It is to be hoped that organisers, players and spectators will enjoy better luck than last year at Royal Durban when the competition was reduced to 36 holes and the course shortened by 1,600 yards to a par 65 due to appalling weather conditions.

Unfortunately, this year’s venue, Mount Edgecombe Golf Club, about 12 miles outside Durban, is unlikely to escape heavy rain and winds currently afflicting areas of the country. Judging by the forecast, Wednesday’s weather, in particular, could cause problems, although it is predicted to get better as the week goes on.

It was won in 2012 by Scott Jamieson in a play-off from Eduardo de la Riva and Steve Webster and the Scot is now especially eager to give it another big shot..

He is 40/1 to bring it off again, but you would imagine that one of the South African contingent will find something extra within themselves to win a trophy that now means even more to them.

Grace took the golfing world by storm last year when winning four European Tour events in the season after graduating from qualifying school and also broke South African win records held by Ernie Els and Retief Goosen.

The world number 49 hasn’t made the same sort of impact in 2013, but is still only 25 and there have been signs in recent weeks that he is ready to strike again.

Other home players to consider include Jbe Kruger (40/1), who finished strongly to tie for second in the South African Open last month.

The English challenge is headed by Richard Finch (25/1), ironically playing some of the best golf of his career after failing to qualify for next year’s European Tour.

Finch hasn’t won since capturing the Irish Open in 2008, but gave Charl Schwarzel a good run for his money in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek a fortnight ago and followed that up by tying for eighth in the Hong Kong Open last weekend.