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Amazing Branden Grace reels off another victory

Ernie Els and Retief Goosen did battle at Fancourt again yesterday, but this time found themselves out-gunned by the new star of South African golf in the Volvo Golf Champions.

Ernie Els and Retief Goosen did battle at Fancourt again yesterday, but this time found themselves out-gunned by the new star of South African golf.

A week after capturing his first European Tour title, Branden Grace, 23, beat two of his boyhood heroes in a play-off to take the Volvo Golf Champions title.

Amazing Grace indeed - he was at the Tour qualifying school only a month ago and did not even have a place in the 35-man winners-only field until he lifted last week's Joburg Open.

He becomes the first player since Fred Couples in 1995 to follow his first victory on the European Tour with another on his very next start.

Els and Goosen were left as joint runners-up seven years after they left the rest in their wake on the course in the South African Open, Goosen winning by a shot on that occasion.

"I'm really ecstatic," said Grace after his two-putt birdie at the first extra hole. "It's a dream come true to win such a big event - pretty much the best tournament I've played in so far."

He was 258th in the world little over a week ago, but now moves inside the top 100.

Grace had fallen four behind when he double-bogeyed the third and bogeyed the fourth, but he covered the remaining 14 holes in five under to prove himself made of stern stuff.

He then hit the longest drive when the trio returned to the 549-yard 18th for sudden death and, with Els driving into the rough and Goosen pushing his second, was the only one on the green in two.

Els hit his third to 18 feet and Goosen's chip stopped on the ridge 30 feet short of the hole.

Grace, though, rolled his long first putt down to three feet and made no mistake after his rivals had both missed.

Els said: "It's a very encouraging week, all four rounds under par, and I'm working on some good stuff."

* Press Association

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