Grace notches up third Euro win

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iol spt april 22 Branden Grace

AFP

Branden Grace of South Africa playing a shot at the Volvo China Open in Tianjin.

Johannesburg - Branden Grace romped home to his third victory of the season with a three-shot win in the Volvo China Open, European tour event at the Binhai Lake Golf Club on Sunday.

Beginning the day with a three shot lead, the young South African held his nerve, with a final round 69 for a four round total 267, 21-under score ahead of Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts in second place.

The win continued the good play of South African golfers on tour this season, with a total of six victories in 15 events.

Grace accounted for half of that total, Louis Oosthuizen with two wins and Jbe' Kruger one.

Grace also become the third South African to win three times on the European tour in a single season.

Grace was asked if he thought he would have claimed his third victory so soon after securing his tour card in December.

“No, never,” he said in the post-round interview. “I thought my first win was around the corner, so to have three now before May is literally unbelievable.”

“I've been playing well and feeling like I can win and I've been giving myself the opportunities.”

Grace will shoot up the ranking and be around the top 50 mark in the world, which would guarantee him an invite into the coming Majors.

“I want to head over to the States for experience, but 1/8playing 3/8 the Majors is a dream come true,” Grace said

“One of my goals was to get into the Masters, I came up short but at least now I've given myself a chance of playing in the next few.”

In a familiar final round duel, Grace, 23, was paired with long-hitting Colsaerts.

The two battled it out at the European tour's Champions event at Fancourt in January, before Colsaerts came unstuck on the 72nd hole.

Grace went on to beat countrymen Ernie Els and Retief Goosen in a playoff.

It was the George native's second victory in a as many weeks, after claiming his debut European tour win the week prior at the Joburg Open.

Grace, dubbed 'amazing', would have been forgiven playing out the rest of the year having claimed his two tour wins early in the season.

He demonstrated his drive to succeed with confidence over the four days.

Grace made it to 20-under par with a birdie on the seventh hole, but was unable to pick up another shot around the turn, while Colsaerts moved to within two of his lead with nine to play.

Coming down the stretch, Colsaerts was unable to eat into to the South African's lead until the final hole as Grace eased to a comfortable victory.

George Coetzee, the four-time Sunshine tour event winner, still looking for his first European tour victory produced another solid display with a tie for fourth on 16 under par for the week.

Kruger, who picked up his debut European tour win in February, ended in a share of 18th on 12-under.

Keith Horne was further down the leaderboard in share of 44th on a score of seven under. - Sapa


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