All players will be vying for a very special trophy

2013-12-11 00:00

YOU will not find a more unique trophy in sport anywhere in the world.

On a sturdy wooden base are the figures of a white-haired Mandela in his trademark Madiba shirt, with a book in his lap, surrounded by children of all races and genders.

Every player taking part in the Nelson Mandela Championship at Mount Edgecombe Country Club from today will hope that, come Saturday, they are the one with the trophy in their hands. The event is given a certain stature, not only due to the fact that the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund shares in the profits from the four days, but also because the tournament takes place less than a week after Mandela’s death.

Among the 156 players, Branden Grace says he sees his participation as a way to honour Mandela.

“It’s sort of bittersweet, but it’s a good thing that we have the chance to play in the tournament and the thing that it subscribes to support,” the four-time European winner said.

“He always talked of excellence, and it’s good to go out and try to live it. He was such an ambassador for the country — actually for the world — and his legacy will always exist,” Grace added.

The 25-year-old South Capetonian made his debut at the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City last week, and finished 20th overall. But Grace says that result is not a true reflection of how he feels at the moment.

“I feel everything will fall into place again soon,” he said.

“I just need a few things to come together. I actually hit the ball pretty well in the final round of the Nedbank, but could not get close enough to sink the putts, but the longer game feels good.”

Grace is hoping for a good result to secure his place in the top 50 in the world and thereby consolidate his place at next month’s Masters.

He is currently 49th.

“I have not played at Mount Edgecombe so I’m excited to get there and see how it goes,” he said.

The tournament was originally scheduled from Thursday to Sunday but was brought a day forward because of Mandela’s funeral on Sunday.

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