South Africa’s Branden Grace successfully defends the Qatar Masters at Doha Golf Club, finishing two clear of Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Thorbjorn Olesen.

Branden Grace started the final round two shots back of two-time Qatar Masters champion Paul Lawrie, but the South African pushed on as the Scot slipped away. Lawrie would eventually card a disappointing closing 78 to drop right back into a tie for 13th place.

After claiming the title in some style last year, Branden Grace successfully defends the Qatar Masters and is the first player to do so. He produced some supremely solid golf in difficult, windy conditions during the final round.

The 27-year-old birdied the first hole and bounced back from a bogey on the 5th with a birdie on the 6th. He picked up another shot at the 10th and then held firm on the run for home, scrambling brilliantly to reel off seven straight pars. A birdie on the closing hole provided the icing on the cake and Grace claimed his seventh European Tour title.

Also playing in the final group, Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen holed a long putt on the final green to claim a share of second place with Rafa Cabrera Bello.

4 Talking points from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship

1 – Branden Grace is the first player to successfully defend the Qatar Masters. He stated before the tournament he would love to improve on his 11th position on the Official World Golf Ranking and break into the top-10. This win won’t quite do it, but he’s getting extremely close and if his game stays as solid as we saw it this week, he will achieve his goal sooner rather than later.
With the win Grace is now tied fourth (with Louis Oosthuizen) on the list of most prolific South African winners on the European Tour. Both have seven.
“It’s great to defend,” said Grace. You’ve got a lot more pressure and a lot more things going on when you’re defending champ, so I’m very pleased to do it.”

2 – Rafa Cabrera-Bello continues his quest to claim a third victory on the European Tour. The last of the talented Spaniard’s two titles came in the Dubai Desert Classic of 2012. He continues to give himself chances to win but has struggled to finish events strongly. In Qatar, he began the day three behind but got within one shot after a birdie at the 2nd. But a double-bogey five on the 8th proved costly and, despite finishing with three straight birdies, his effort came up just shy.

Rafa Cabrera-Bello swing sequence:

3 – It was an excellent week for Bradley Dredge of Wales. He closed with four straight birdies to climb the board and end the week in a tie for fourth. After struggling with his game in recent seasons, this result could provide the 42-year-old with a boost to go on and achieve more top-10 results through 2016.

4 – Sergio Garcia was left to consider what might have been after a disappointing final two days in Qatar. At eight-under through two rounds, the Spaniard was right in the hunt. But rounds of 74 and 70 stalled his progress and he finished in a tie for seventh. Having moved away from the claw grip this week, Garcia missed countless opportunities and will need to find some form with the flat stick before he wins again.

Commercial Bank Qatar Masters
Doha GC, Doha, Qatar
Jan 27-30
Purse: €2,300,000, par 72

1    Branden Grace (RSA)    70    67    68    69    274    €381,459
T2    Rafa Cabrera-Bello (Esp) 67    68    71    70    276    €198,791
T2    Thorbjorn Olesen (Den)    67    69    69    71    276    €198,791
T4    Bradley Dredge (Wal)    71    67    70    69    277    €97,197
T4    Andrew Johnston (Eng)    66    69    72    70    277    €97,197
T4    Lee Slattery (Eng)    69    69    69    70    277    €97,197
T7    Richard Bland (Eng)    72    69    67    72    280    €50,735
T7    George Coetzee (RSA)    67    70    73    70    280    €50,735
T7    Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 67    69    70    74    280    €50,735
T7    Sergio Garcia (Esp)    70    66    74    70    280    €50,735
T7    Ricardo Gouveia (Por)    67    71    70    72    280    €50,735
T7    Louis Oosthuizen (RSA)    65    73    71    71    280    €50,735

Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage