Branden Grace (Getty Images)
Having already claimed four titles this season, Branden Grace faces a very different season finale to this time last year as the South African prepares to tee it up in the lucrative DP World Tour Championship.
Just 12 months ago the 24 year old was preparing for a fourth trip to The European Tour Qualifying School.
As he did in 2008, Grace was successful in securing a card – but while the 2009 season saw him struggle to make an impact, he burst onto the scene in 2012.
Back-to-back wins on home soil in January announced his arrival, and were followed by victories in China and Scotland.
So impressive has Grace’s year been, that he starts the week sixth on The Race to Dubai and well placed to take a substantial share of the $3,750,000 bonus pool, something the South African admits is a world away from the test he faced a year ago.
“This time last year, heading to Tour School, seems so far away now but obviously it's just something that's just a year ago,” he said. “Just trying to get back to where I thought I belong and grinding it out and things like that, and it's a year later and look at what's happened so far.
“It's been a great year. If I put it in words, it's just like a dream come true to be honest. One thing led to another, and I think after I got the confidence and the things and all the experience from the first win, everything else just jumped into place and everything just happened.
“But it's not over yet. There's still this week, it's my first time down here, the course is in great shape and things like that, and I think it is a long hitter's golf course.
“So if you can get it out there quite a long way and give yourself the opportunities then you should be able to score around this place. I think definitely the guys are going to be at the top of the week is the guy that hits it a long way and can hit the fairways and make the odd putt.”
Grace has relocated to Dubai, and revealed he is looking forward to competing with the 59 other best players on The European Tour this season at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
“I am a resident here now, it's been great,” he added. “I must say I've always liked coming to Dubai and playing here.
“I've been here the last couple of years, and it's been great. I think this is a place where I want to establish myself and if I have a week off, come back here and just enjoy it here.
“There's so much to do and the people are friendly, and it's just one hell of a place, if I can say it like that. It's been great, and just to come back here for events like this is very special.”