Don't overlook Grace in 'best young golfer' debate


Quick: List the best young golfers in the world right now.

The names will come quick and easy, so familiar that even a casual observer could reel 'em off in a hurry.

Rory McIlroy, obviously. The foursome of Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Rickie Fowler and Jason Day, too. Give it a few more seconds and they'll probably come up with the likes of Hideki Matsuyama, Victor Dubuisson, Brooks Koepka and Harris English.

We can debate just exactly what constitutes a "young" golfer, but it's inarguable that 26-year-old Branden Grace has been severely overlooked on this list.

Grace won the Qatar Masters on Saturday in impressive fashion, playing his final six holes in 5 under. It was his eighth career professional title, sixth on the European Tour and second in his last four starts.

Those accomplishments might still pale in comparison with a player such as Reed, who owns half as many victories but on a much more competitive circuit, but Grace's immense talent shouldn't be overlooked as much as it's been to date.

The reality is, we're watching him develop right before our eyes.

Grace hasn't finished outside the top 25 in his last 10 worldwide appearances. If confidence brings results and results bring confidence, he should have all sorts of momentum heading toward the meaty part of the calendar in a few months. Which is also the next step in his progression.

It should be pointed out that he's claimed all but one title in the months from October through January – not exactly primetime for an elite player. It should also be noted that in 11 career major starts, he's never fared better than T-18. And that his limited PGA Tour experience is profoundly pedestrian.

Those results should all leave him behind some of the more popular young players, but it's the other ones – the winning in bunches; the consistent play – that should at least help include him as part of this conversation.