A stone’s throw from victory
Golf’s newbie gets tips from his dad and shows older players a thing or two
South Africa’s emerging golfing star Brandon Stone hopes to maintain his winning form by successfully defending his BMW SA Open Championship title.
The SunshineEuropean tour cosanctioned tournament tees off at Glendower Golf Club in Edenvale, Ekurhuleni, on January 12.
Stone opened this year in style by winning the Open with a score of 14 under-par 274 at the same venue in January and pocketed a whopping R2.4 million in prize money.
This was a great showing for a golfer who only turned professional in 2013.
Last Sunday, the 23-year-old Pretoriabased player closed the season on a high by snatching the Alfred Dunhill Championship – another big one.
He outclassed his challengers to win the event, played at Leopard Creek Country Club in Malelane, by seven shots for his second European Tour title. It earned him R2.8 million, his biggest purse so far.
Stone, who is ranked 107th in the world, shot 22 underpar across the four-day showdown, leaving fellow South African Richard Sterne far behind in second place.
He was consistent throughout the season, and he finished in respectable positions in other contests and boosted his earnings (see graphic).
Not even seasoned fellow South African campaigners Branden Grace, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen have been able to maintain such great form on the course this year. Stone believes his long-held dream of winning the Open for the second successive year will become a reality, given his current good form. “I’m quite aware that this has been a magnificent year for me,” Stone said. My aim is to win the Open for the second year running as this will hopefully open the floodgates for other big wins as well this season.” About the money that he has already accrued from the game so far, the young golfer said: “Obviously, [it] is quite encouraging to gain so much in [only] one year. I hope to double the amount next year.” He is full of praise for his father Kevin, a former professional golfer on the Sunshine Tour who played a key role in his son’s win at Leopard Creek Country Club. “My dad always goes with me to events,” Stone said. “At the Dunhill, he was a bit nervous on the first three days as I was not hitting straight shots. “On the final day, he worked on my swing before the game, hence I played consistently and ran away with the title.” He said his father, who is based in Ballito on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast, had been looking after his golfing interests since he was five. “To get this win before Christmas is obviously great, but, more importantly, it gets me a good start on the Race to Dubai.” The Race to Dubai affords golfers campaigning on the European Tour a chance to accumulate more points during the season and win a trophy at the end of year. He said he would spend the Christmas holidays with his family at the Kruger National Park before preparing for the Open.
FAR BEHIND Richard Sterne has had to play second fiddle to Stone
BEEN THERE Charl Schwartzel playing in Malelane
ON TOP Stone’s form is better than Louis Oosthuizen’s
NOT QUITE Branden Grace also can’t keep up with Stone