Amazing Grace could be best yet of Ernie’s finishing school

Sam Torrance
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GARY PLAYER, Bobby Locke, Ernie Els; South Africa have produced some magnificent golfers over the years and that conveyor belt just keeps on producing great talents.

The latest to announce himself is Branden Grace, the 24-year-old from Pretoria who took his season’s tally to five tournaments with an emphatic victory at the Dunhill Links Championship on Sunday.

His 22-under-par was a tournament record and came just seven days after he had claimed the Origins of Golf title on the Sunshine Tour in his native country.

Thorbjorn Olesen came closest to denying him and even drew level on the back nine, but Grace then found an extra gear to pull away from the Dane and win by two strokes.

It’s turning out to be a fantastic 2012 for him. Outside the world’s top 300 players at the start of the year, he is now ranked 37 and could yet even pip Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose to the Race to Dubai prize.

With a handful of tournaments to play, Grace is less than €800,000 behind the Northern Irishman. It’s a tough ask for him, but he has given himself a chance and the fact that he is anywhere near those two is testament to his astonishing rise.

Grace is another product of the Ernie Els Foundation, the academy that counts Major winners Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosithuizen among its alumni. He has the Schwartzel swing, is a great driver and his attitude looks very good; there is nothing missing from his game. Grace can match them both and go as far as he wants.

Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer and media commentator. Follow him on Twitter @torrancesam