Ekurhuleni - There may have been a touch of hyperbole when a couple of pundits
called him ‘the hottest golfer in the world right now’, but Brandon Stone
certainly appears to have all he needs in his armoury as he sets off on
Thursday in defence of his title in the BMW SA Open proudly hosted by the City
number two Rory McIlroy is in the field – in fact, he’s in the same match as
Stone, together with George Coetzee off the 10th at Glendower Golf
Club at 7.10am – doesn’t faze the 23-year-old Stone who stormed to a two-stroke
victory over Christiaan Bezuidenhout last year.
only the second time I’ve been back to Glendower since the SA Open, so
obviously there are a lot of memories flooding through the system which is
quite enjoyable,” he said. “But Glendower has always been a place I enjoy going
to; it’s always been a place I’ve played well at, so hopefully I can try and
replicate last year’s results this year.”
McIlroy starts every tournament in which he tees it up as one of the
favourites, he said he would be keeping a wary eye on Stone. “There are a lot
of good players this week,” he said. “Brandon Stone and Andy Sullivan obviously
have a bit of form round here and then you just never rule out guys like Ernie
Els and Retief Goosen.
“I know that
if I play the way I can then I will have a good chance to win but I need to
make sure I concentrate on getting myself into that position on Sunday
Stone, it’s all about concentrating on his own game, and working on stepping up
a level after a great year in 2016 which saw him win twice on The European Tour
– the BMW SA Open and the Alfred Dunhill Championship – and become an Olympian.
“Now it’s 2017 and not 2016 anymore,” he said. “Reset goals; a lot more
aspirations, the bar has been lifted and I’ve got to try and live up to that
obviously hits the ball miles and whilst I’m not long, I’m not short,” said
Stone. “I might be close to him pound-for-pound but so long as I have my feet
on the ground, I’m not going to out-drive him.
when you play with guys like that is managing your game and concentrating on
your own strengths. Often if you’ve got the adrenaline of a big group or a big
atmosphere you hit the ball five or ten yards further. It’s important to be
aware of that.”
against McIlroy – it could end up being a battle for the ages.