Amazing Grace lands two from two to match Couples

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The Independent Online

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, 23-year-old Branden Grace beat two of his boyhood heroes in a play-off for the Volvo Golf Champions.

Amazing Grace, indeed – he was a hopeful 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 Johannesburg Open.

Grace (left) became the first player since Fred Couples in 1995 to follow his first victory on the circuit with another on his very next start.

Els and Goosen were joint runners-up seven years after they left the rest of the field for dead 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.

With Europe's Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal dropping back to sixth after sharing the lead early in the final round and Padraig Harrington falling away to 10th, Grace could easily have won the event in regulation play. But missing a birdie chance of under five feet on the last left him with a two- under-par 71 and put him alongside Els and Goosen on 12 under.

Grace prevailed though in the play-off, proving he is made of stern stuff in the battle with his more fancied countrymen.