Johannesburg – Branden Grace is satisfied with his start to the European Tour season, after carding a closing seven-under 65 to finish fifth at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on Sunday.
Grace soared up the leaderboard in the fourth round to settle on 10 under par, four shots behind winner Jamie Donaldson of Wales.
The South African put together 10 birdies and three bogies for the lowest round of the day, including four birdies in a row to end his round.
“I just kept on hitting the balls in the right spots the last couple of holes and the putter was hot, so the last one was actually the longest putt I had to make,” Grace said.
He said his putting came together in the final round which helped him to his score.
“It was one of those rounds where everything got together. The putter was hot.
“I think that was the big difference between me and many today. You could say we hit it the same, if not better, but I just made everything I looked at.
“I think that was one of the best putting displays I've had to date.”
The result helped Grace move four places up the world rankings to 30th position.
While Grace has produced good results this season – including a share of seventh at the Volvo Golf Champions in Durban a week prior – he has not yet added to his four European Tour wins.
He hoped, however, he could turn in more consistent results, as countryman George Coetzee did last season on the European Tour.
“I think that's something I've wanted to work on. Last year, I had four wins, but obviously I had some nowhere finishes as well.
“I think this year, I obviously want to try to keep on winning, but I want to get the consistency up.
“I kept on looking at George's results last year, and although he didn't win, I think he had like 10 top-10s, and that's something you need to improve on – well, I need to improve on at least.
“It's nice to have probably two Top-10s in the first two events of the season, so it's something good.”
The 24-year-old believed his game was only one round away from notching up a win.
“I don't know, I think it's just one of those, I'm a little bit of – not a slump you can say in that way – I just need to step the one gear up and make it four rounds.
“Again, if I had a good third round, then what would have happened, but I'm still chuffed. It is a big week.
“This is only my second time here, so after last year, I will take this finish.”
Coetzee and Jbe' Kruger ended just behind Grace on eight under for the week, in a share of ninth.
Keith Horne and Darren Fichardt both finished on three under in a tie for 32nd place.
Ernie Els could not get going, failing to break 70 in any of the rounds, and settled for a share of 39th on two under par. — Sapa