South Africa’s Branden Grace produced a late surge to win the Qatar Masters by one shot from Scotland’s Marc Warren at the Doha Golf Club on Saturday.
Grace became the fourth South African to win the US$2.5 million tournament, following Darren Fichardt (2003), Ernie Els (2005) and Retief Goosen (2007).
After a close battle for the most part of the day, Grace landed an eagle on the 16th hole to momentarily edge clear of the field, but could only manage a par on the 17th, which Warren birdied to draw level.
However, with the final hole remaining, Grace almost produced another eagle, getting within three feet for his fourth birdie to log a final round of 66.
That gave him an aggregate of 19-under-par 269 and the title, as Warren could only par the final hole after missing the fairway and landing in the rough.
Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, who was part of a quartet who shared the overnight lead, was third with 271, while England’s Eddie Pepperell was fourth on 272.
For the second consecutive day, Grace produced the shot of the round — a drive to five feet on the par four 16th, setting up a decisive eagle.
On Friday, he had produced a miraculous wedge shot from the trees at the fifth, where the resulting birdie set up a third round 68 after a shaky start.
“It was a great day, a great week, and it’s another trophy to put in the cupboard,” Grace said. “This is one of the trophies you want to win.”
“I’m going to thank Callaway again — that driver again on 16 to four feet; without that it wouldn’t be possible. That wedge on the fifth hole, that was a shot that you want to hit but you don’t always manage it,” he said. “The form has been there, I played great and I managed to get in on top.”
The 26-year-old also maintained his 100 percent record of winning all of his six European Tour events when leading or sharing the lead going into the final round.
All four of his previous titles came in 2012, after which he endured a two-year drought before his second win in four starts this season, which could help him win a ticket to the Masters in Augusta.
Warren gave Grace a tough fight, but saw his round blemished by a bogey and a double bogey over the front nine, which eventually put paid to his hopes of winning his fourth European Tour title.
“I started birdie-birdie, but it didn’t feel as in-sync as it has been, and obviously starting with two birdies, you can’t complain,” Warren said. “I wish next week started tomorrow, after playing a final ten holes like that. It’s a second place but it’s not like I have made any mistakes coming in, and it was exactly the opposite to be honest.”
The European Tour’s “Gulf Swing” now moves to the United Arab Emirates next week for the Dubai Desert Classic.
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