branden grace Just weeks after securing his card at Q School Branden Grace was holding aloft the Joburg Open trophy after winning his first European Tour title.  Grace’s final round of 72 was just about good enough to hold off another Q School graduate Jamie Elson who has an I for the dramatic.  The Englishman who held a monster putt on the 18th in Catalunya to earn his card, this time shot a blistering 63 to surge through the field and almost catch Grace.

In the end however the 23 year old playing on home soil held his nerve to card a Faldo-esque 72 with 16 pars to finish on 17 under, one ahead of Elson. The win was worth €206,050 and sees him exempt on Tour until the end of 2013. His nearest challengers at the start of the day, Richard Finch and George Coetzee had a tough day at the office and slipped quietly down the leaderboard.

Six players tied for third including four South Africans and two Scots.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Grace after. “It’s nice to win in front of a home crowd and I wouldn’t exchange it for anything else.” Grace then paid tribute to his caddie saying “I think there was one big key today, Zack [Rasego] on the bag kept me calm throughout the whole day so big thanks to him.”

With just one more event on South African soil, The Volvo Golf Champions, to play this week the question is will another South African player win?  The rainbow nation have now won four of the last six European Tour events. These include Garth Mulroy (2011 Alfred Dunhill Championship), Hennie Otto (2011 South African Open Championship), Louis Oosthuizen (2012 Africa Open) and Branden Grace (2012 Joburg Open).

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Donal Hughes

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