Golf: Amazing Grace wins again in Qatar

Branden Grace of South Africa poses with the winners trophy after the final round of the Qatar Masters.
Branden Grace of South Africa poses with the winners trophy after the final round of the Qatar Masters.PHOTO: EPA

DOHA (AFP) - South African Branden Grace retained his Qatar Masters title in Doha on Saturday winning by two shots and making tournament history in the process.

The world No. 11 shot a last round 69 in the European Tour tournament to go with previous rounds of 70, 67 and 68 to finish on 14 under.

In doing so, he became the first player to win back-to-back Qatar Masters' titles, despite describing his chances of winning again in Doha as "slim" at the beginning of the week.

As well last the trophy he also received a winner's cheque for US$416,660 (S$593,000).

It was his seventh European Tour victory, his first since last year in Qatar, the first time he has defended a title and he is the fifth South African to win in Doha.

Afterwards, Grace said he would return to Doha next year to try and win a hat-trick of titles.

"What a great week, it's great to defend the title," he said.

"I can't wait to come back next year and give it a run for the third time."

He added: "I am pretty much lost for words."

Grace took last year's title with a score of 19 under.

But windy and cold conditions - Grace described them as "brutal" - this year prevented such low scores.

He started the day two shots back from overnight leader Paul Lawrie but clawed back that advantage by the eighth and a disastrous seven at the par five ninth from the Scotsman left Grace as outright leader for the first time and it was a lead he would not relinquish.

He made birdies on the 10th and 18th, following a fine approach shot "I enjoy tough conditions, I am a grinder, " he told reporters afterwards.

"Patience is the big key, I really had to grind it out."

The 27-year-old said he was determined to break into the world top 10 and he could be considered an outside contender for the Masters at Augusta in April.

Grace finished tied fourth at last year's US Open and placed third at the PGA Championship.

"The Masters are a big goal for any golfer," he said. "I feel my game is in good shape, I feel I can get there."

Grace finished two shots ahead of Spain's Rafa Cabrera-Bello, who shot a final round of 70, and Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen, who birdied the last for a 71.

One shot further back were a group of players on 11 under, including Bradley Dredge and Andrew Johnson.

Overnight leader Paul Lawrie had a shocking last round, shooting a six over par 78, to finish at seven under.

He made double-bogeys at the par five 9th and at the par four 14th. Lawrie also made four other bogeys as he ended up finishing tied for 13th position, despite leading for most of the week.

The 2014 champion Sergio Garcia finished on eight under, the same score as Louis Oosthuizen, on his Doha debut.

Top amateur for the week was China's Jin Cheng who finished on three under.