TO HAVE won six European Tour titles at the age of 26 is impressive enough, but to have done so in the convincing manner that Branden Grace has is something else.
The South African claimed his second win of the season on Sunday at the Qatar Masters, following up last month’s seven-stroke victory at the Alfred Dunhill Championship on home soil.
Once again he triumphed having held the lead going into the final day. That was the case with his other five wins – a sure sign that Grace is a very strong player indeed.
In the end he needed a superb eagle at the 16th, which capped a flawless round of 66, to beat Marc Warren by one shot, as the Scot bounced back from missing the cut last week in Abu Dhabi to post a highly encouraging performance.
Grace, who climbs back into the world’s top 50 with that result, and Warren will be aiming to continue their fine form this week in the final leg of the Desert Swing in Dubai.
All eyes will be on Rory McIlroy, though. The world No1 won his first European Tour title at the Dubai Desert Classic six years ago and has never finished outside of the top 10 at this event.
On top of that he has been in the top two of his last six tournaments on the tour, including last week’s Abu Dhabi Championship, where he was runner-up for the fourth time.
McIlroy won’t have it all his own way, and faces a high-quality field that also features 2007 winner Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer and Stephen Gallacher, out to defend his title for a second time.
Finally, well done to Miguel Angel Jimenez, who played the back nine in six under par in Hawaii to win his second Champions Tour title in three outings.
Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer and media commentator. Follow him on Twitter @torrancesam