Grace up to world no. 66 with third win of 2012 April 23, 2012
Branden Grace became only the second player in European Tour history to win three times in the season after graduating through Qualifying School as he claimed victory at the Volvo China Open, having already won this year's Joburg Open and Volvo Golf Champions. Three clear of last year’s winner Nicolas Colsaerts overnight, the South African’s lead on the final day was never fewer than two shots and a closing 69 saw him finish 21 under at Binhai Lake. Having finished 2011 as World Number 271 Grace makes a further jump up the Ranking of 23 positions this week to World Number 66.
Ben Curtis returned to the winner’s circle for the first time since 2006 with a two shot win over second placed men Matt Every and Jon Huh at the Valero Texas Open. On a difficult final day at TPC San Antonio, Curtis remained assured both from the tee and the fairway, ranking second in Greens in Regulation and Driving Accuracy for the week. However when he found an old divot on 17 resulting in a near skulled pitch that bounded through the green, it had looked like is one shot lead could disappear, but after an average chip he managed to roll in a clutch par putt from 23 feet. This maintained his slender advantage, and when his nearest competitors failed to birdie the last, he rolled in a celebratory birdie to close and wrap up his fourth win on the PGA Tour. His reward is a healthy jump up the FedEx Cup standings, the right to play almost any event he fancies the rest of the season, and a 124 place leap up the World Rankings to 156th spot.
Despite having to play 32 holes on Sunday, and closing with a final round 74, Lee Westwood successfully defended the title he won a year ago at the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters. After opening with a 65 on Thursday, it was seemingly business as usual for the World Number Three, who carried on just where he left off 12 months earlier to lead early on. More solid play followed, the kind that has typified Westwood’s form over the past few years, and entering the final round with a healthy margin he was able to hang tough on a tiring day to take the title by two strokes from Thaworn Wiratchant. The win solidifies Westwood’s third place in the World Rankings as he chases down the table topping Rory McIlroy and second placed Luke Donald.
Hiroyuki Fujita won the Tsuruya Open for the second time in three years to claim his 12th win on the Japan Golf Tour thanks to a closing 67 that saw him romp four clear of the chasing pack. Starting the day three back of overnight leader Han Lee, who fired a third round 63 to top the board, Fujita remained unphased made the birdies he needed to on Sunday to overturn the deficit and take the title. As a result he hops up 15 spots on the Ranking and into 72nd spot.
Chris Swanepoel fired a truly spectacular round on Sunday at the Golden Pilsner Zimbabwe Open making only four pars en route to a 64 and playoff victory over Trevor Fisher Jnr. Opening the round with four straight birdies was just the start Swanepoel needed, before bouncing back from a double bogey at the ninth with birdies either side of an eagle at the 12th. However, when a second double followed at 15 it looked to have derailed the Pretoria native’s charge for the title, but birdies at 16 and 18 was a show of resilience, and when Fisher failed to par the last it was a playoff. Pars followed first time round, but on the second extra hole a second par was enough for Swanepoel to win, and as a result, jump 172 places to 457th on the Ranking.