Stone eyes vic­tory in Morocco

CityPress - - Sport - PULE MOKHINE pmokhine@city­press.co.za

Bran­don Stone is con­fi­dent that his sud­den and rather un­ex­pected rich form will stand him in good stead to win the Trophée Has­san II at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Ra­bat, Morocco, start­ing on Thurs­day. The 22-year-old Pre­to­ria-based golfer snatched his maiden vic­tory on the big cir­cuit by win­ning the SA Open at the Glen­dower Golf Club in Eden­vale, Ekurhu­leni, in Jan­uary. That vic­tory made him the coun­try’s youngest cham­pion at Mzansi’s flag­ship event since it was first co-staged with the Euro­pean Tour in 1997.

Since then, how­ever Stone had been strug­gling to cope on the big stage – un­til last week.

He fin­ished tied for se­cond at the Shen­zhen In­ter­na­tional at the Gen­zon Golf Club in China on the Euro­pean Tour. The event was won by Korean Soomin Lee, who carded -16 for a to­tal of 272.

“I am happy I have re­gained my form be­cause my golf swing was ter­ri­ble be­fore my last game.

“Most of my shots had not been find­ing the fair­ways, and now I’m con­fi­dent I can win the Morocco event,” said Stone.

Since his SA Open vic­tory, Stone per­formed dis­mally on the tour, where he fin­ished poorly in Europe. His score­cards on the Euro­pean Tour in Fe­bru­ary read as fol­lows: Abu Dhabi HSBC Cham­pi­onship (26); Com­mer­cial Bank Qatar Mas­ters (48); Omega Clas­sic (82); and the Tsh­wane Open (10).

Be­fore his good show­ing in China, Stone’s dis­as­trous form con­tin­ued when he carded tied 85th at the Span­ish Open at Valderama.

He be­lieves good for­tune on the Euro­pean stage will be re­alised for him for the se­cond time in al­most four months when he tees up in Morocco.

“The Morocco event is pretty com­pet­i­tive as com­pared to many other events on the tour be­cause of the nar­row fair­ways. It will be nice to win this com­pe­ti­tion,” said Stone.

The player, who is coached by his dad, Kevin, him­self a pro­fes­sional golfer on the Sun­shine Tour, said com­pe­ti­tion would be stiff in Morocco.

“My dad has been work­ing on my short game and putting at our home course in Pre­to­ria this week. I’m con­fi­dent about bring­ing the tro­phy home,” said Stone.

He is among eight South Africans who have reg­is­tered to par­tic­i­pate in the show­down.

Dean Burmester is the other lead­ing player from these shores who wants to make a mark in Morocco.

He won six times on the Sun­shine Tour since he turned pro­fes­sional in 2010. Five of his wins last year in­cluded the Golden Pilsener Zim­babwe Open.

But com­pe­ti­tion will be stiff on the desert coun­try’s greens, which were dom­i­nated last year by Scot­tish player Richie Ram­say.

A gen­er­ous prize purse of €1.5 mil­lion (R24.5 mil­lion) will be on the line.

PHOTO: LINTAO ZHANG / GETTY IMAGES

CON­FI­DENT Bran­don Stone be­lieves his good form will help him win next week

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