Stone says Dad helped him win
Still basking in the glory of winning the BMW SA Open Championship trophy, Brandon Stone says he is grateful to his dad, Kevin, a professional golfer himself, for inspiring him to win his maiden European Tour title.
Stone shot to instant international attention when he lifted the trophy at the co-sanctioned event at the Glendower Golf Club in Edenvale, Ekurhuleni, last Sunday.
At the age of 22 years and 265 days, he became the youngest winner of the country’s flagship contest since it was first co-staged with the European Tour in 1997 (see box). He surpassed the previous age record set by Trevor Immelman in 2003, when the latter was 23 years and 27 days old.
The Pretoria-based Stone carded a final-round score of -14 for a total of 274 to beat fellow South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout by two shots.
Stone senior, who – like his son – campaigns on the Sunshine Tour, gave his protégé moral support for the duration of the three-day event.
The competition, fielding a strong line-up of local and international contestants, was often interrupted by inclement weather. But Stone put up a spirited showing on the final day to prevail.
He gave credit to his father for the win.
“My dad was with me at the event from day one,” said Stone.
“He gave me good tips on how to keep my composure, especially when the weather was bad during those first two days, which forced play to be stopped.”
The player said he was more comfortable on the final day, as his father watched him sink the putt that led to his being crowned.
“The morning before the final round tee-off, he perfected my club selection. I could feel it in my bones that I was going to win, and our strategy worked perfectly. Thanks to Dad – he’s such an inspiration to my career.”
Stone’s victory has raised him from 249th in the world rankings to 118th. He broke into the local tour scene three years ago and often competes with his mentor-father, who has been swinging his clubs among the top players for the past 20 years.
“The two of us often play at Centurion Country Club, our local course, to prepare for big games,” he said.
Stone, who is also inspired by veterans Ernie “The Big Easy” Els and Retief “The Goose” Goosen, is eyeing other big titles on the more demanding European circuit fairways in future.
He is currently competing in the Joburg Open that ends today at the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club.
On Thursday, he will swing his clubs at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in the United Arab Emirates.
“I am looking forward to giving it my best shot there. I am in great form on the course at the moment. I am determined to win in Abu Dhabi,” said Stone.
Stone senior says of his son: “He has a great swing that reminds me of Ernie Els. I believe he will go places because he is extremely focused.”
VICTORIOUS Champion Brandon Stone poses with the SA Open trophy