He has as many titles to his name this year as the top three players on the Official World Golf Rankings combined, and Branden Grace is starting to attract the attention such an achievement deserves.
Grace, who last week added the Volvo China Open to his victories in the Joburg Open and the Volvo Champions in January, has moved to 66th in the world with his latest win.
In the meantime, world number one Rory McIlroy has just one win to his name Â the Honda Classic on the US PGA Tour Â which is the same tally as number two Luke Donald and number three Lee Westwood each have.
Donald won the Transitions Championship on the US PGA Tour, while Westwood got his first win of the year in last weekÂs Asian Tour event, the Indonesian Masters.
Jason Sobel, a senior writer for the Golf Channel, said, ÂMuch like countrymen Trevor Immelman, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen, Grace is a major up-and-coming talent. Speaking of major, those three all own major championships Â and it may not be too long before Grace joins them in that exclusive club.Â
And Grace was one of the subjects of a weekly Âround-tableÂ discussion online at Golf.com, which is the American magazine Sports IllustratedÂs golf web presence.
While there is a residue of the persistent belief that American golf is the pinnacle of the game amongst some of the participants in the discussion (ÂUntil we see him play in the US, repeatedly, he will remain an unknown. ThatÂs Ugly American bias, but also reality. This is where the best golf is played,Â wrote Michael Bamberger, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated), there is agreement that heÂs someone they all want to see in action.
Said Jim Gorant, a senior editor at Sports Illustrated: ÂLetÂs say some random American won three second-tier PGA Tour events this year, and his name rhymed with Nicki Towler. Think anyone would dismiss those as meaningless? Think if that player won the same three events that Grace did anyone would be doing anything but celebrating the guy?Â
And Gorant added, ÂHeÂs starting to remind me of Martin Kaymer, who began quietly kicking it on the Euro tour a few years ago before showing up here, winning a major and becoming number one.Â
Three other senior writers chipped in. ÂDefinitely time to take him seriously. IÂm looking forward to seeing how he plays in the Opens,Â said one; ÂThree wins isnÂt a fluke. ItÂs a trend,Â added another; and ÂIf itÂs all about winning, Grace is the hottest player on the planet,Â said the third.
Joked senior writer Damon Hack: ÂA young and talented golfer from South Africa? IÂm buying this stock immediately.Â
Grace has returned for South Africa for a three-week break before he resumes his European campaign Â and, who knows, he may even take a tilt at a major.