South African Branden Grace wins Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland after closing 70 at St Andrews
Last Updated: 08/10/12 8:40am
Branden Grace: Fourth European Tour win of a memorable 2012 season
Branden Grace overcame a mid-round wobble to fire a closing 70 and secure a two-shot win in the Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews.
Four clear overnight and five in front after a birdie at the first, the South African played the next 10 holes in two-over and walked off the 11th green tied for the lead with playing partner Thorbjorn Olesen.
However, Grace claimed a hat-trick of birdies at 12, 13 and 14 to vault three clear again and once more gain control of the tournament which he'd led since a stunning 60 in his first round at Kingsbarns.
(GB & Ire unless stated)
-22 B Grace (Rsa)
-20 T Olesen (Den)
-18 A Noren (Swe)
-16 J Sjoholm (Swe)
Click here for collated scores
A bogey at 17 saw Olesen cut the gap to two but the 24-year-old Grace kept his nerve to become the first man this season to win four times on the European Tour.
Grace's winning score of 22-under matched that of last year's champion Michael Hoey.
Olesen returned a four-under 68 to finish in solo second on 20-under, two shots clear of Sweden's Alexander Noren who closed with a 69.
Another Swede, Joel Sjoholm, was alone in fourth on 16-under while the seven-way tie for fifth included South African George Coetzee, who posted a scintillating 10-under 62 to leap from tied 58th.
Grace joins an elite list of players who have won four or more titles in one season on the European Tour - Seve Ballesteros, Ernie Els, Sir Nick Faldo, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Martin Kaymer, Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Lee Westwood and Ian Westwood.
A delighted Grace said: "It feels awesome. I've really dreamt of this moment my whole life."
"I got goosebumps this morning when I looked back at what Louis (Oosthuizen) achieved here winning the (2010) British Open and I thought lifting this trophy on that little bridge is going to be amazing."
As for the early part of his round, Grace said: "I kept hitting good shot after good shot for the first eight holes but I just never made a putt."
However, Grace then turned to his caddie Zach Rasego - Oosthuizen's 2010 Open winning bagman - to help him read the lines and it made an immediate impact.
"I told Zach 'just jump in with reading the lines' as I just needed a little clarification... and then the stroke just felt good again."
Grace started the year 265th in the world rankings but is now comfortably in the top 50 after his victory in this prestigious event added to his wins earlier this year in the Joburg Open, Volvo Golf Champions and Volvo China Open.
The monster first prize of £491,000 means Grace is now up to third place in the Race To Dubai.