14th November 2017 | Sunshine Tour
Grace raises his stocks with Nedbank win
Branden Grace’s historic victory at this year’s Nedbank Golf Challenge not only meant putting to an end a mean streak of foreign players’ domination in this event, it also raised his stock significantly – it being a Rolex Series event – ahead of the final event on the European Tour schedule, the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
He entered the tournament as one of the home-crowd favourites and at the back of successive ties for 15th at the PGA Tour’s The CJ Cup @NINE BRIDGES and the World Golf Championship-HSBC Champions. But, lying 34th on the Race to Dubai with just one event left on the calendar, put together with the prospect of becoming South Africa’s first player to win Africa’s Major in a decade, Grace needed no further motivation.
Then came Thursday and he opened with a 68 that was followed by a resilient performance to produce a 75 in very tough weather conditions at the Gary Player Country Club. Those were followed by a round-three 68 and a perfect six-under 66 to seal the win for Grace and push him up the Race to Dubai presented by Rolex to ninth with 1,972,695 points.
It doesn’t end there. He now moves up 15 spots on the Official World Golf Ranking, from the 44th position he occupied prior to this week’s event to 29th. He also became the sixth South African player to win a European Tour title this season, joining Brandon Stone (Alfred Dunhill Championship), Darren Fichardt (Joburg Open), Dean Burmester (Tshwane Open), Dylan Frittelli (Lyoness Open powered by ORGANIC+) and Haydn Porteous (D+D REAL Czech Masters).
And now ranked ninth on the Race to Dubai, Grace is eligible for a share of Race to Dubai bonus pool, ahead of players like Rory McIlroy, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Henrik Stenson among others. The Nedbank win also means Grace has won at least one European Tour title for three consecutive years. If he produces the goods at Jumeirah Golf Estate this week, it will be a perfect end to a solid season the 29-year-old professional.