Branden Grace was born on this day in 1988. In 2012, he became the first player in the history of the European Tour to win his first four European Tour events in the same year.
Grace played on the Challenge Tour in 2007 which is Europe’s second tier tour. He only played in eight events but recorded two top-ten finishes. In 2008 he played on the Challenge Tour and the Sunshine Tour. He finished 35th on the Challenge Tour’s Order of Merit while recording three top-10 finishes including finishing in a tie for second at the Ypsilon Golf Challenge. He then earned his European Tour card for 2009 through qualifying school. In 2009 he struggled on the European Tour but finished in a tie for second at the Africa Open on the Sunshine Tour, behind winner Retief Goosen. He finished in the top 10 in seven of the nine Sunshine Tour events that he played in en route to a 11th place finish on the Order of Merit. He picked up his first professional win in 2010 at the Coca-Cola Charity Championship on the Sunshine Tour. In 2011 he finished 24th on the Challenge Tour’s Order of Merit while recording five top-10 finishes. He also finished 7th on the Sunshine Tour’s Order of Merit. He went back to qualifying school to earn his European Tour card for 2012.
In January he won the Joburg Open which was co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the Sunshine Tour. He won by one stroke over Jamie Elson. He then won the Volvo Golf Champions the following week to make it back-to-back European Tour victories, beating his veteran compatriots Ernie Els and Retief Goosen in a playoff with a birdie on the first hole. Grace became the first player since Fred Couples in 1995 to follow his first victory with another consecutively. As a result, Grace moved inside the world’s top 100 in the Official World Golf Ranking. On 22 April, Grace won his third tournament on the European Tour when he won the Volvo China Open. Only two players have won three European Tour titles in a single season at a younger age, Seve Ballesteros did it three times between 1977 and 1980, and Sandy Lyle did it in 1979. Grace also became only the third South African to win three times in a single season, joining Ernie Els and Retief Goosen. He also became only the second player in European Tour history to win three times in the season after graduating from qualifying school. In September, Grace captured his third Sunshine Tour title at the Vodacom Origins of Golf Final. On 7 October, Grace won his fourth European Tour title and fifth worldwide title of 2012 at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. He broke the scoring record at the tournament to win at 22 under par, two strokes clear of Thorbjøn Olesen. His record total included a European Tour record equaling 60 at Kingsbarns during the first round. Grace moved to third in the Race to Dubai and also to a career high 37th in the Official World Golf Ranking. Grace capped off a highly successful 2012 season by winning the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit.