With his win in the China Open Branden Grace has become only the second player in European Tour history, and the first South African, to win three events in the year after earning a tour card through Qualifying School.
Grace began the final round three shots ahead of defending champion Nicolas Colsaerts, and the lead never dropped below two stokes as the young South Africa coasted to his third European Tour win.
“I stayed really calm today,” said Grace. “I kept hitting the ball well. I missed a couple of shots the first couple of holes but regrouped well and made the birdies where it counts on the par fives, and just stayed with it from there.
“I thought my first win was around the corner. To have three before May is literally unbelievable, but I’ve been playing well so I’ve been feeling like I can win and I’ve been giving myself opportunities.”
“It’s just amazing and shows you the standard of golf that I am playing right now. To have three wins on The European Tour at this stage of my career is awesome.
“If I think back now to last year and playing on the Challenge Tour and just trying to get back to the main Tour and really just trying to make a living it was tough at points. So to be here with three wins is amazing.
“Everything is going great. I wouldn’t have thought I would have been top 70 in the world and it is nice to know that I don’t have to worry about a lot of stuff and I will just be able to play the game with a smile on my face and try to push on from here. I want to get better, I want to win more titles and I want to play the Majors and make a name for myself around the world.”
Johan Edfors is the only other man to have won three times the year after coming through Qualifying School, but it doesn’t stop there for the 23-year-old South African.
Only two players have won three European Tour titles in a single season at a younger age – Seve Ballesteros 1977 and 1980, and Sandy Lyle did it in 1979.
Grace is also only the third South African to win three times in a single season, and again he has some illustrious company – Ernie Els and Retief Goosen.
His other two victories were back-to-back in his home country of South Africa in the Joburg Open and the Volvo Golf Champions, and his win in China proves that he is good outside of courses he knows well.
Despite some big drives, Colsaerts is the longest driver on the European Tour, the Belgian could only managed to match Grace’s 69 in the final round, and never really put any pressure on the South African.
“I thought I could have got little meaner on Branden today because I had a few chances and I could have closed the gap a little more but in the end I left him a bit too much breathing space,” said Colsaerts.
“Apart from that I played pretty good. I didn’t putt as well at the weekend but I think I played pretty good all day but he never really made a mistake.”