Branden seals Order of Merit victory

His share of 12th place in the Alfred Dunhill Championship secured Branden Grace top spot on the 2012 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit to crown an extraordinary year.

While he stumbled somewhat in his final round of the season – he carded a two-over-par 74, after climbing into second spot at 12-under-par behind the runaway winner Charl Schwartzel – such was the importance of his victory in the Joburg Open in January and of his Vodacom Origins of Golf Final win in September at The Links Fancourt that his topping the money list was assured.

“The Order of Merit is very important. Every guy that plays golf out here on the Sunshine Tour wants his name on the trophy at the end of the season,” said Grace.

Beside his two victories on the Sunshine Tour, Grace exploded onto the world stage with three more victories on the European Tour – the Volvo Champions, the Volvo China Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

“I’m very chuffed. Winning the Order of Merit is all I wanted to do this year,” he said. “A bit of disappointment with the finish, but I still played well. A couple of bounces didn’t go my way around the edges at Leopard Creek, but it’s been a great finish to an awesome season.”

It’s almost difficult to comprehend how rapidly Grace rose to prominence: The story of how he lost his European Tour card last year, and regained it through the Qualifying School is well known, but perhaps the story is more dramatically told through the Official World Golf Rankings.

He started the year in 271st position, and finished it in 34th – assured of an invitation to the Masters and a fixture in the golfing elite of the world.

“Reflection will come now. I’ve sat back a little bit and thought about what I’ve done, but not everything has sunk in yet,” he said. “I think that when I have this break now I can really sit back, tick it off and realize that it’s been a great year.

“Hopefully 2013 can be remotely as good as this was.”

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