The Best Year No One Saw

by Jeff Skinner

It was no surprise that Rory McIlroy was voted best male player of the year by the Golf Writers Association of America.  The surprise was that he wasn’t a unanimous choice.   Some writers must place way too much weight on the FedEx Cup as three of them choose Brandt Snedeker over McIlroy.  Even more surprising was the single ballot cast for Tiger Woods.  Maybe someone wants an invite to TW’s new digs.

Stacy Lewis was voted the best female and Roger Chapman walked off with the title for the seniors.  The common denominator for all three award winners is that they all won majors during the year, Chapman actually won two.   All were deserving winners.

But on the European Tour there was another player that had a fantastic season and practically no one recognized it.  While Branden Grace may not be the player of the year he certainly had the best season that nobody knew about.  Except for golf addicts or golf media, Grace is an unknown but he deserves better.

The 24 year old South African won five worldwide events, four of them on the European Tour.  The Qualifying School graduate got off to a rousing start with wins in two of the first three tournaments.   He pocketed over $3.5 million dollars and vaulted up the Official World Golf Rankings to 34.

Grace continues the trend of world class golfers hailing from South Africa.  With South Africans winning majors by the bunch Grace could be on the same path as Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and the dean of South Africans, Ernie Els.

Grace will get some exposure in the states in 2013 as he plays some WGC events and the majors.  True, his five wins don’t carry the same weight as Rory’s but this young man seems to have found some serious game.  Whether or not he can keep it up in 2013 remains to be seen but Gary Player and Els think he has what it takes.  And that’s about as good a recommendation as one man can get.


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