Branden Grace’s top-five finish at the weekend has seen him rise to 11th in the latest world golf rankings.
The South African has been playing remarkably consistent golf, finishing in the top ten of his last five events.
2015 proved a breakthrough year for Grace, as he recorded no less than eight top-ten finishes, including wins at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters and the Dimension Data Pro-Am.
The Pretoria-born golfer also fared well in the majors, finishing tied for fourth at the US Open and on his own in third at the PGA Championship.
As a result, Grace rose from world number 82 at the start of 2015 to 14th in December.
“I’m so close now so hopefully I can put in another good week and get over the line,” the 27-year-old told europeantour.com about cracking the top ten.
“It’s something you dream about as a young player, being in the world’s top ten, so it would be huge for me to achieve that.
“The rest of the year was my best year in terms of the standard of golf I played. It’s going to be hard to follow up those finishes in the Majors, but it’s given me a taste for it and now I know what to expect from being in that position. It’ll help me prepare better.”
Grace arrives in Qatar this week as the defending champion. He looks back on his win with great fondness.
“Last year was a big step in the right direction for me,” he added.
“It didn’t just lift me up the World Ranking, it got me into a lot of tournaments and my career has excelled ever since that. It really put me back on the map again and it’s a week I’ll never forget.
“It’s great to be back here. I got goose-bumps arriving this morning and remembering some of the moments from last year. Winning in your home country is special but I’ve always wanted to win in the Middle East and it was great to tick that box.
“Obviously, I’m going to try to defend the title as well as I can. The form feels good and I’ve had five top tens coming into this week. I’m in a really good frame of mind and I’m pushing for a win. I’m maybe pushing a little too hard at times…I need to be patient.
“But coming back to a place like this and getting those positive vibes and fond memories, hopefully, that can be the difference between a top five and getting the win.”
Joining Grace in the Qatar Masters field is Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn and Louis Oosthuizen.