Phelan ends rookie year with 33rd spot at Leopard Creek
  Kevin Phelan drives from the fourth tee during the final round of the 2014 Alfred Dunhill Championship at the Leopard Creek Country Club. Picture: David Lloyd / www.golffile.ie

Kevin Phelan drives from the fourth tee during the final round of the 2014 Alfred Dunhill Championship at the Leopard Creek Country Club. Picture: David Lloyd / www.golffile.ie

Kevin Phelan ended his rookie year with a share of 33rd as Branden Grace won by seven shots on 20 under par in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.

The Waterford Castle player, 24, posted rounds of 72-71-72-72 to finish on one-under par and earn 11,250 points towards the 2015 Race to Dubai.

While he lost his card at the end of the 2014 campaign, finishing 65th at the Final Stage of the Q-School at PGA Catalunya last month, Phelan still has plenty of positives to reflect on this year.

He played 25 events around the world with his best finishes a share of sixth in the Tswane Open in March and a third place finish in the Hong Kong Open in October.

As for Leopard Creek, Grace shot rounds of 62, 66, 72, 68 to beat compatriot Louis Oosthuizen by seven shots and complete the first wire-to-wire win in the tournament's history.

“It’s special to win it wire-to-wire, more so because it’s in front of a local crowd," said Grace, who won for the first time since he triumphed five times in 2012. "It was a pretty flawless round today and the perfect way to finish off an incredible tournament. Great week in the office."

Grace, who will move up around 36 spots to 82nd in the world when the rankings are updated on Monday, added: "I was satisfied to finish the tournament off the way I did today.

"Every time I’ve won is when I’m playing well. I haven’t won when I’m not on top of my game. I was really good off the tee this week and even on the 18th I stuck to my routine.”

Grace had been five clear at the halfway stage after following a sparkling opening 62 with a round of 66.

However, a third round 72 kept him 16 under par and saw Dane Lucas Bjerregaard close to within one of the lead.

The anticipated charge from the chasing pack never materialised, however, as a four under par 68 gave Grace a 20 under total and comprehensive seven stroke margin of victory over Oosthuizen while Bjerregaard had an absolute nightmare, carding an 89 to crash from second to tied 49th.