Grace Wins Second Straight On European Tour


Branden Grace beat two of his country's most illustrious players with a birdie on the first sudden-death hole to win the Volvo Golf Champions. The victory was the second straight in his homeland for the 23-year-old South African, who won last week's Joburg Open at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.

Grace, three-time major champion Ernie Els and two-time U.S. Open winner Retief Goosen ended up tied in regulation Sunday at The Links at Fancourt in George, South Africa. Grace, who began the final round sharing the lead with Nicolas Colsaerts at 10-under 209, closed with a 71 while Els had a 67 and Goosen a 70 to tie at 12-under 280.

On the first playoff hole, the par-5 18th, the two veterans could only muster pars while Grace, who could have won the title in regulation but missed a 3-footer for birdie on the 72nd hole, made a 2-foot putt for birdie for the victory.

"It's awesome. It's been amazing, and it's nice to sit here again on a Sunday afternoon as I did last week," said Grace. "You know you've got a three-footer and if you make it you're a hero. I didn't think I hit a bad putt, to be honest. But the confidence from last week played an important role," he added.

"I was lying in bed the night before the final round reading a couple of articles and saw that there were seven players with 13 majors chasing me. I thought it's a big field behind me. But I just stuck to what I was doing."

He admitted that going against such luminaries as Els and Goosen was exciting. "Standing on the tee with Ernie and Retief in the playoff was unbelievable," he said. "I was very calm, though. It's one of those awesome things to know I've beaten two of my idols in a playoff."

Colsaerts missed out on the playoff by a stroke after closing with a 72, while right behind in fifth at 282 was 2011 Masters' champion Charl Schwartzel (72). Jose Maria Olazabal started the day two strokes out of the lead but could only muster a 73 Sunday to finish sixth at 284 in the tournament reserved for winners the previous year.

For all the scores, visit http://www.europeantour.com/europeantour/season=2012/tournamentid=2012003/leaderboard/index.html.


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