With his impressive victory in the Volvo China Open, Branden Grace became just the third South African in the history of the European Tour to win three tournaments in one season, the other two being Ernie Els and Retief Goosen. Is Grace good enough to follow in the footsteps of two of our greatest players?
To make things even more interesting Grace actually beat both Els and Goosen in a playoff in the Volvo Golf Champions for the second of his three wins, but obviously the two elder statesmen are in the twilight of their careers.
The fact of the matter is that Grace is only 23 years old and he has already achieved something incredible. With the amount of talent there is floating around the world of golf at the moment, they say you need a bit of luck to go your way to win on any given weekend, but it takes a special amount of class to do it three times in the first four months of the year.
It’s only April! It is far from being beyond the realms of possibility to imagine that this youngster could join Els as the only South Africans to win four events in one season on the European Tour.
His achievement isn’t only remarkable with a local viewpoint either; he is fifth on the list of youngest players to win three European Tour events, after the likes of Seve Ballesteros and Sandy Lyle, and he is just the second Qualifying School graduate, after Johan Edfors, to win three events the year after earning his card.
Of course it hasn’t all been sunshine and roses for Grace, his European Tour wins have come in the last 10 starts. His best finish in 49 attempts before that was sixth in the 2009 South African Open.
Despite having to come through Qualifying School to get a card at the end of last year, he is by no means a rookie on the European Tour this year, but he has come back a better, more mature player that is way closer to the finished article than he has ever looked before.
But the question remains, now that he has equalled their achievement, does Branden Grace have the potential to be as good as Ernie Els or Retief Goosen, or maybe even better?