Grace defends Qatar crown following Lawrie slump


Branden Grace completed the first successful defence of the Qatar Masters on Saturday, triumphing by two shots after overnight leader Paul Lawrie fell away badly in the final round.

Lawrie, a two-time winner of the event, led Grace and Thorbjorn Olesen by two with 18 holes to play at Doha Golf Club.

However, on a day when wind again made life difficult - resulting in only four players breaking 70 - Lawrie struggled to a 78 and finished well down the field in a tie for 13th.

There were no such problems for Grace, who offset a solitary bogey with four birdies in a closing 69 that lifted him to 14 under.

A four at the par-five 18th rounded off a superb display from the South African, who now has seven European Tour titles to his name at the age of 27.

Olesen (71) and Rafael Cabrera-Bello (70) shared second at 12 under, one clear of the fast-finishing Bradley Dredge (69), Andrew Johnston (70) and Lee Slattery (70).

"It's a dream," Grace is quoted as saying by the European Tour's official website.

"This is a tournament that kicked my season off last year and hopefully it can take me to even better things this time round.

"The key was my grinding and staying patient. It was tough out there, but fair. I knew if I stuck to my guns and tried to give myself some opportunities, I could do it."

Like Grace, Lawrie picked up a shot at the first, but four bogeys and two double-bogeys followed before he made his only other birdie at the 17th.

The Scot offered an honest post-round assessment, tweeting: "Hit it poor putted awful got unlucky a few times and head up my a*** not a good combination congrats @BrandenGrace."

Lawrie ended the tournament seven shots behind Grace and one behind Sergio Garcia (70) and Louis Oosthuizen (71) - who were among six players to share seventh.