Grace earns wire-to-wire win at Dunhill Links

Branden Grace shot a 2-under 70 on Sunday at St. Andrews to wrap up a wire-to-wire victory at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

Grace held off a charge from Thorbjorn Olesen and finished with a 22-under 266 to secure his fourth European Tour victory of the season.

"Everything has just been going my way," said Grace, who received his 2012 tour card at qualifying school last winter. "I've really been working a lot on my short game and the things that have been a downfall."

The 24-year-old South African began the tournament with a course-record 12- under-par 60 at Kingsbarns on Thursday. He stayed on top with a second-round 67 at St. Andrews before carding a 3-under 69 at Carnoustie Golf Club -- considered the most difficult of the three courses -- to hold a 4-stroke lead over Olesen entering the final round.

Olesen, who won the Sicilian Open earlier this season, made a push near the turn on Sunday with birdies on No. 8 and 9. Grace then 3-putted for a bogey on the 11th, allowing the Dane to pull even.

Grace righted himself, however, and reeled off three straight birdies, which, coupled with Olesen's bogey on No. 15, pushed the margin back to four. A birdie on the last capped Grace's wire-to-wire weekend.

Olesen nearly eagled the last, but instead settled for a birdie and a final- round score of 68 to finish at 20-under. Alexander Noren recorded a 69 on Sunday and took third place at 18-under, while Joel Sjoholm placed fourth at 16-under.

Stephen Gallacher, whose only career European Tour win came at this event in 2004, finished in a seven-way tie for fifth at 15-under.

Grace, also a winner at the Joburg Open, Volvo Golf Champions and Volvo China Open, is the first player in European Tour history to win his first four events in the same season. In addition, he earned a Sunshine Tour victory last Friday.

The Pretoria native opened play Sunday with a birdie on the par-4 first, but was even through nine courtesy of a bogey on No. 7. After Olesen made his move, Grace created distance on the greens, draining putts of 10, 12, and 14 feet for back-to-back-to-back birdies from No. 12 to 14.

Notes: Several participants in the recent Ryder Cup stunner were in the field. Martin Kaymer and Peter Hanson members of the victorious European squad, both finished in a tie for 34th at 9-under, while teammate Paul Lawrie failed to make the cut, finishing tied for 79th place at 3-under...British Open winner Ernie Els also tied for 34th....Michael Hoey, the 2011 champion, missed Saturday's cut after carding a pair of 71s and a 72 for a 2-under 214.