Grace wins Volvo China Open by three shots, third victory of season

Branden Grace and George O'Grady at the Volvo China Open
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Branden Grace accepted the Volvo China Open trophy and gold jacket from European Tour Chief Executive George O'Grady.
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PGA.com news services

Series: European Tour

Branden Grace of South Africa shot a final-round 3-under 69 Sunday to win the Volvo China Open by three shots.

The 23-year-old Grace started the round with a three-shot lead over 2011 winner Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium and maintained that lead to finish with a 21-under 267 on the Pete dye-designed, links-style course at Binhai Lake Golf Club.

Colsaerts sank a 15-foot birdie putt on the ninth hole to briefly close to within two shots, but he three-putted the next hole for his first bogey in 34 holes to fall back to three behind.

Colsaerts also closed with a 69 to finish second at 18 under. England's Richard Finch was third a shot further back after carding a closing 66.

It was Grace's third European Tour victory of 2012 after back-to-back wins in January at the Joburg Open and Volvo Champions in South Africa.

With the victory, Grace becomes only the second player after Sweden's Johan Edfors in 2007 to win three times in a year after emerging from the European Tour's qualifying school.

"To get three before the start of May is unbelievable. But I have been playing well, getting myself into contention and making the most of the opportunities," he said.

"At first I was thinking about trying to keep my playing card this year but now I feel I have the ability to go out and win every week and I have had that mindset for some time."

Victor Dubuisson of France and George Coetzee of South Africa finished in joint fourth on 272. Five players including Francesco Molinari of Italy and Australia's Marcus Fraser finished another shot back in a tie for sixth.

Grace was wayward off the first tee but recovered with a 15-foot par putt, while both he and Colsaerts birdied the second. Grace bogeyed the par-4 fourth, but he responded with birdies at the long sixth and struck his approach to five feet for another gain at the seventh.

Colsaerts birdied the seventh and ninth to move within two shots of Grace, but then bogeyed the 10th and saw his chances fade further with a Grace birdie at 12. The South African parred the final six holes, while Colsaerts' birdie at the last allowed him to finish in outright second ahead of Finch.

"I stayed really calm today," said Grace. "I kept hitting the ball well. I missed a couple of shots the first couple of holes but regrouped well and made the birdies where it counts on the par 5s, and just stayed with it from there.

"I'm definitely here to win every week I play now."