While Branden Grace was busy making a name for himself on the links at the U.S. Open, there was one fan in particular at Chambers Bay who was impressed with the South African’s play; his long-time girlfriend Nieke Coetzee.
Coetzee, who is also a native of South Africa, has been Grace’s biggest supporter for years, a constant presence in the gallery and away from the greens.
Here’s what you need to know about Grace’s better half:
1. Coetzee Grew Up in South Africa
Just like her boyfriend, Coetzee was born and raised in South Africa. A country girl, Coetzee frequently posts photos of herself donning cowboy hats and even taking aim at a shooting range on her Facebook page.
She’s part of the South African Thoroughbred OTTB group on the social media site, a page that honors the sport and its relation to South Africa’s history.
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2. Coetzee Served as Grace’s Caddie at the Par 3 Contest Prior to This Year’s Masters
The long-time couple worked together during this year’s Par 3 contest ahead of the Masters. Coetzee was on the bag in the annual competition, a chance for players to let loose some metaphorical steam ahead of the historic competition.
Grace, who made the official turn to pro in 2007, did not make the final cut for this year’s Masters. He did not compete in the event in 2014 either.
3. Grace Isn’t Shy About Sharing His Relationship on Social Media
Although Grace isn’t a household name in the golf fandom quite yet, the South African native hasn’t been shy about sharing his life with the social media world. Of course, that includes his relationship with Coetzee.
Grace’s Twitter is a regular update on what he and Coetzee are up to and the latest competition the two are jetting off to. In fact, Grace’s profile picture and background photo are snapshots with Coetzee.
4. Coetzee is a Regular When Grace Plays on the European & Sunshine Tours
Although Grace is starting to build a reputation on the PGA Tour, he got his start on the European and Sunshine Tours and Coetzee has been there every step of the way. Grace won his sixth European Tour title earlier this year and Coetzee was on the side of the green, celebrating his latest on-course achievement.
Coetzee has become quite a jetsetter over the course of her relationship with Grace. She isn’t just wracking up frequent flier miles by following his career either – she’s also setting a course of her own:
5. Coetzee Is Incredibly Proud of Her South African Heritage
Coetzee has frequently expressed her thoughts on South Africa’s history and politics on her Facebook page. She took to the social media site in December 2013 to honor Nelson Mandella after his death and has shared her own thoughts on the future of her country.
She also regularly posts links to commentary on the current state of South Africa, including an essay on the growing numbers of South Africans who are moving to Australia.