PGA win? It’s a Stone’s throw
Todd says that the golfer’s recent good showing in Europe should open the floodgates for other South Africans to do well in the tournament.
Those also out to make their mark include Trevor Immelman, Hennie Otto, Trevor Fisher Jnr and Richard Sterne.
“Stone has been the most consistent player this season in Europe in my book so far. I would not be surprised if he ends up being the first South African golfer to win the event,” said Todd.
The tournament, one of the richest on the European Tour and the circuit’s flagship event, tees off at the West Course at Wentworth Club in Surrey, England, from Thursday.
Todd will be one of the rules officials at the contest. His duty is to ensure that players adhere to the rules of the game.
The tournament features the cream of the golfing crop and carries a purse prize of €5 million (R88 million).
It has not been won by a golfer from Mzansi since it was first played in 1957.
Most of the locals have gone as far as finishing tied second in the contest (see box).
Still, Todd believes that Stone’s recent on-form performances make him a firm favourite to win and gain automatic entry into the forthcoming majors – namely, the US Open, taking place at Oakmont Country Club, Pennsylvania, from June 16 to 19; and the next British Open, set to take place at Royal Troon Golf Club in Ayrshire, Scotland, from July 14 to 17.
The 23-year-old Stone has had an impressive 2016 season on the tour.
He has been the most consistent player this season in Europe in my book so far. I would not be surprised if he ends up being the first South African to win
He won the SA Open, carding a score of 274 at Glendower Golf Club in Germiston in January. Last month saw him tie at second in the Shenzhen International in Genzon, China. He registered a score of –14.
And a week ago, Stone came joint sixth at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, which was held at the Four Seasons Golf Club in Anahita.
He is currently ranked 13th in scoring average on the tour.
Todd, who has officiated in 20 events in European and PGA US tours, said that, as an official, he could hopefully brief Stone about the tournament rules before the game, advising him on how to avoid possible infringements on the course during the event.
“Weather conditions will be adverse at Wentworth Club as players will battle to cope with the heat,” he said.
POSITIVE VIBES Sunshine Tour tournament director Gary Todd (left) and Colin Nel