Modest that they were, Branden Grace could profit nicely from recent finishes at the World Cup (T-20) and Nedbank Challenge (T-14). He secured enough world-ranking points at those tournaments to move from 52nd to 51st, then to 49th in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Finishing within the OWGR’s top 50, of course, brings with it an exemption into the Masters, so to try and help his cause, Grace has chosen to tee it up in this week’s Nelson Mandela Championship. Had he not played, Grace was projected to have dropped to 51st.
He’ll need to play well, then see how things play out in Thailand where other ranked players (Rickie Fowler, 40th; Thongchai Jaidee, 46th; Bernd Wiesberger, 53rd; Thorbjorn Olesen, 59th; Kiradech Aphibarnrat, 61st; and D.A. Points, 62nd) could affect things.
Most interested observers on the sideline? Richard Sterne is 50th and Joost Luiten 51st and while they could both benefit from not playing, it will all depend on what others do.
The late-season rush for world-ranking points did not work out for Scott Piercy. He was as high as 39th when his 2013 season came to a close at the BMW Championship, but when he played poorly in four tournaments to start the wrap-around season (MC, T-21, T-63, WD), he stumbled to 52nd and thus will miss out at the end-of-year major exemption into the Masters.
Of course, Piercy can still work his way back into exemption territory for the Masters (the top-50 cutoff will be the week before the Masters).