Three victories in 11 starts on the European Tour – that is a statistic that one would expect from Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy. Instead, it is now a feat achieved by South Africa’s newest star Branden Grace after his overpowering performance at Binhai Lake Golf Course in China.
After a couple of lackluster outings on the tour, a missed cut in the Sicilian Open and a tie for 40th in The Malaysian Open, Grace busted out his best stuff and posted rounds of 67, 67, 64, 69 for a 21-under-par total and cantered to an easy victory, his third in 2012, by three shots. In so doing he vaulted to fourth place on the season-long Race to Dubai rankings with earnings of $1,393,519.00
To put his third victory of the season in the proper perspective bear these stats in mind: The top three players in the Official World Golf Rankings, Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood have combined for three victories in 2012; perennial powerhouses, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods have had two victories between them; and eleven of the top twenty players in the world have not had a victory in 2012. Now that third win starts to resonate doesn’t it?
With his win in China, Branden Grace moves to fifth in the list of youngest players to win three European Tour events in the same season and how about this Hall of Fame list: Seve Ballesteros (20 years and 99 days in 1977); Seve Ballesteros (21 years and 121 days in 1978); Sandy Lyle (21 years and 212 days in 1979); Seve Ballesteros (23 years and 109 days in 1980) and Branden Grace (23 years and 338 days in 2012). Further, he becomes only the third South African player to win three European Tour events in a single season. He follows Hall of Famers, Ernie Els (2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005) and Retief Goosen (2001). Finally, with his feat he becomes just the second Qualifying School graduate to win three events the season after graduation. (Statistics courtesy www.europeantour.com) Seriously impressive stuff from the young man!
So what can we learn from Branden Grace’s win in China:
You never know what the future holds:
I am quite prepared to believe that if, at the beginning of the year, you offered Branden a 2012 season that included one win and a two-year European Tour exemption he would have leapt at the offer. Especially considering the fact that he had not been able to retain his playing privileges on the tour the year before and he had just advanced through the grueling process that is the European Tour Final Qualifying tournament.
Well how a few months have changed things. Now he has won three times and has a legitimate shot at winning the Race to Dubai. Learn this valuable lesson from Grace’s performance in 2012: You never know what the future holds so keep a positive attitude, keep your eye on the prize, practice with a purpose and play hard. Your fortunes can change at any time and the results may even blow your mind.
Sometimes you need to make the tough trips:
Making the trip all the way to the Pacific Rim to play in the Malaysian Open and the China Open is certainly trying on the body and the mind and for many tour players it is often a trip that can easily be omitted from the schedule.
Granted the events had good purses, but still it would take some doing to commit to play in them. That being said, consider for a minute what Branden Grace’s reality would be if he did not travel to Asia: Life would still be good, but it would be a lot different to what it is now.
The win in China will propel him well into the upper reaches in the World Golf Rankings and being ranked as one of the top players in the world ranks will enable Grace to play in the World Golf Championships events.
From there he can parlay good results in the WGC’s into appearances in all of the Majors. Once in the Majors he has the opportunity, with great performances, to etch his name in annals of golf history. Remember, sometimes you need to make the tough trips to the places you may not normally go to as destiny may have your big results scheduled there.
You can make sensible, calculated judgments about course setups, travel times and planned rest times when planning your tournament schedule but occasionally it is just a gut-thing. Give your game a chance by playing in a lot of events at different places. Indeed, you can’t win it if you’re not in it.
Play well and enjoy our great game.