Weekend winners: Stylish Grace defends title, Kim wins again
European Tour: Qatar Masters – Branden Grace
The South African edged closer to the world’s top 10 after defending his title, the first player to do so in Qatar.
A three-under 69 got the job done and it was a fifth straight top 10 this season. Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Thorbjorn Olesen tied for second while overnight leader and two-time champion Paul Lawrie had a stinker of a day, slumping to a 78. The Spaniard birdied his last three holes to make his move on a day when only five players broke 70.
Wales’ Bradley Dredge finished with four birdies to pull alongside English duo Andrew Johnston and Lee Slattery.
Grace had four birdies on the day, a fortunate break at the 1st got him going and he recovered from a dropped shot at the 5th with a second birdie at the next. A pitch close at the 10th pulled him further clear and a brilliant long iron into the heart of the green at the 72nd hole sealed the deal.
What Grace said: “It’s a big thing to come to a week defending. You’ve got a lot more pressure and a lot more things going on that week. There’s no better place to do it than Qatar. This was really one of my biggest wins to date last year, and I think this is just going to push it up even higher.
“It’s all a big learning curve as your career goes on. I’ve learned a lot this week, learned patience, and I’ve learned what it takes now to defend a title. And not just that; to win a title again. It happened last year, but it feels long gone. So it’s great to be in the winner’s circle again.”
LPGA Tour: Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic – Hyo Joo Kim
The Korean, who won the Evian Championship on her first Major appearance, opened up the new season with her third victory at just 20.
The youngster shot a closing 66 which included two hat-tricks of birdies, she was seven under for her first 14 holes, and a birdie at the 17th from nine feet gave her a two-shot win over Stacy Lewis, Sei Young Kim and Anna Nordqvist.
Lewis needed an eagle to force a play-off but could only par the 72nd hole – she now has nine runner-up finishes in 40 events since her last victory in June 2014.
Charley Hull led after a birdie at the 4th and followed it with another at the 8th but two bogeys saw her drop back to 14 under and a share of 8th.
Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum could have had something really special after eight birdies in 13 holes but eventually came up three short, tied with a resurgent Paula Creamer who is now working with a new coach.