ItÂs almost difficult to believe the extent of the step up that Branden Grace has taken this year, but itÂs not beyond the bounds of possibility that he could win the Open Championship at his second attempt.
In January he won the Joburg Open. He then won the Volvo Golf Champions the following week to make it back-to-back European Tour victories, beating Ernie Els and Retief Goosen in a playoff. Grace became the first player since Fred Couples in 1995 to follow his first victory with another consecutively.
Then, in April, he won his third tournament on the European Tour when he won the Volvo China Open. Only two players have won three European Tour titles in a single season at a younger age, Seve Ballesteros did it three times between 1977 and 1980, and Sandy Lyle did it in 1979.
He also became only the second player in European Tour history to win three times in the season after graduating from qualifying school.
He wonÂt have read it, but an American pundit has tipped him for the win.