Grace wins back to back in Qatar
 Branden Grace with the 2016 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters trophy. Picture: Getty Images

Branden Grace with the 2016 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters trophy. Picture: Getty Images

South African Branden Grace became the first player to win back-to-back Commercial Bank Qatar Masters titles after plotting his way to a classy victory at Doha Golf Club.

Grace, who was the highest ranked player in the field and came into the event off the back of five consecutive top tens, posted a three under par 69 to finish on 14 under, two shots clear of Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Dane Thorbjørn Olesen, who closed with rounds of 70 and 71 respectively.

Having started the day two shots behind Paul Lawrie, Grace patiently made progress in windy conditions, holding off his rivals with a flawless back nine and birdieing the last for good measure as he captured his seventh European Tour title.

Welshman Bradley Dredge and Englishmen Andrew Johnston and Lee Slattery shared fourth spot, but it was a day to forget for Lawrie, who signed for a 78 and slipped down to tied 13th.

Branden Grace

“I’m pretty much at a loss for words. 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. But to get the first proper defence under the belt is something great, and something I've been dreaming of. It was brutal out there. You can’t really force things to happen. You just need to stay patient and let it happen. I did that really well yesterday and it worked to my advantage and did the same today. I think maybe it went my way a little bit, as well. I enjoy tough conditions. I’m a grinder, and the patience was a big key. I really had to grind it out and let it happen.
“Anything can happen on 18, especially with that pin position; you get the guy going for it, and making eagle. It’s happened before. It’s one of those holes where you can’t really get too comfortable that you’ve done it, but I thought when I hit the green in two, this is done for. I had to take it on, and I would put that down as the best swing of the week. A three-iron is not the easiest club in the bag to hit, and I just flushed it straight at the middle of the green and that took care of the rest.
“I feel privileged to be able to get my name on the trophy twice in a row. It’s great to be in the winner’s circle again.”

Rafa Cabrera-Bello

“I had a very strong finish and I'm very pleased with the result. I made a bad mistake on the eighth. It was a tough day and many of the guys were also making mistakes, so I just told myself that there was still a lot to play for, still a lot of golf to play, and I just stayed patient and waited for my chances and they came in the end. It’s just nice to be feeling that I’m playing good at the moment and feeling in control of my game.”

Thorbjørn Olesen

“At the start of the week, you’d take tied second - it’s pretty good. I had a lot of chances today but nothing really went in. I missed that short putt on the tenth which hurt a lot. I never really got the pace on the greens. But I gave myself so many good chances, and that’s always nice. I've tried to change my mental side a little bit, and I’ve really enjoyed this week from the start. Even though I hit a few bad shots, I was still very good mentally. That’s a good sign and that’s what I have to keep working on. This is a very good start and I’m looking forward to next week in Dubai.”

Final scores

274 B Grace (RSA) 70 67 68 69, 

276 T Olesen (Den) 67 69 69 71, R Cabrera-Bello (Esp) 67 68 71 70, 

277 L Slattery (Eng) 69 69 69 70, A Johnston (Eng) 66 69 72 70, B Dredge (Wal) 71 67 70 69, 

280 G Coetzee (RSA) 67 70 73 70, S Garcia (Esp) 70 66 74 70, L Oosthuizen (RSA) 65 73 71 71, R Bland (Eng) 72 69 67 72, R Gouveia (Por) 67 71 70 72, T Fleetwood (Eng) 67 69 70 74, 

281 B Wiesberger (Aut) 68 70 70 73, M Ilonen (Fin) 71 68 71 71, G Bourdy (Fra) 67 68 72 74, J Luiten (Ned) 70 67 74 70, P Lawrie (Sco) 67 66 70 78, J Carlsson (Swe) 69 67 72 73, P Larrazábal (Esp) 65 72 72 72, 

282 K Broberg (Swe) 67 70 74 71, T Jaidee (Tha) 68 72 71 71, S Kjeldsen (Den) 70 69 75 68, R Rock (Eng) 68 70 71 73, P Edberg (Swe) 70 66 71 75, B Hebert (Fra) 71 70 71 70, J Campillo (Esp) 69 68 73 72, 

283 N Colsaerts (Bel) 66 68 77 72, A Cañizares (Esp) 73 67 73 70, 

284 E Els (RSA) 68 70 72 74, B Evans (Eng) 69 71 74 70, G Havret (Fra) 71 67 70 76, R Kakko (Fin) 69 71 72 72, M Siem (Ger) 69 71 75 69, R Paratore (Ita) 75 66 71 72, 

285 N Holman (Aus) 70 71 72 72, M Warren (Sco) 73 68 73 71, M Kieffer (Ger) 69 68 76 72, C Shinkwin (Eng) 68 74 70 73, P Meesawat (Tha) 72 67 73 73, J Cheng (am) (Chn) 72 70 71 72, 

286 R Davies (Wal) 69 73 73 71, J Lagergren (Swe) 72 68 75 71, A Noren (Swe) 69 69 75 73, B Åkesson (Swe) 66 73 74 73, R Ramsay (Sco) 71 69 71 75, T Hatton (Eng) 71 70 69 76, L Bjerregaard (Den) 68 70 77 71, 

287 B Stone (RSA) 72 68 75 72, T Fisher Jnr (RSA) 72 70 69 76, S Benson (Eng) 74 67 71 75, B Rumford (Aus) 68 69 78 72, 

288 K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 69 73 72 74, T Immelman (RSA) 68 74 75 71, R Karlsson (Swe) 73 67 73 75, W Ashun (Chn) 73 70 73 72, T Pieters (Bel) 75 68 71 74, 

289 H Porteous (RSA) 71 71 73 74, J Morrison (Eng) 70 70 73 76, 

290 P Hanson (Swe) 74 67 75 74, G Stal (Fra) 74 68 71 77, A Dodt (Aus) 72 71 71 76, M Korhonen (Fin) 72 68 75 75, T Bjørn (Den) 69 72 76 73, M Fraser (Aus) 69 72 75 74, M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 72 71 74 73, N Fasth (Swe) 71 71 77 71, 

291 B Dechambeau (am) (USA) 73 70 74 74, 

292 S Jamieson (Sco) 73 70 73 76, A Quiros (Esp) 70 73 76 73, O Wilson (Eng) 72 69 74 77, J Hansen (Den) 71 72 73 76, 

293 J Fahrbring (Swe) 69 68 77 79, 

297 D Lipsky (USA) 71 72 76 78, 

298 C Lutton (Sco) 68 72 76 82