Grace got into the 35-man field by winning the Joburg Open the preceding week in Johannesburg. That makes it two wins in a row for young Grace, who now moves on to the United Arab Emirates for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship where the really big guns come out. The top four players in the world—Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer—will make their 2012 European Tour debut this week. Also in the field is a guy from America named Woods.
Grace closed with a 71 to tie Big Ernie and Retief at 12 under. Els fired a 67; Goosen carded a 70. Grace could have put the tournament away in regulation, but misfired from less than five feet on the final green. But he redeemed himself with a birdie on the first playoff hole, the same par-5 18th, while Els and Goosen could do no better than par.
“It’s a dream come true to win such a big event,” Grace said, “pretty much the best tournament I’ve played in so far.”
Grace is the first European Tour Q-school grad to record back-to-back wins in the year after graduation. He has earned a spot in two WGC events—the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the WGC-HSBC Champions—and is now exempt on the European Tour through the end of 2014.
−The Armchair Golfer