Seven birdies and six bogeys in a final round of 71 proved good enough for home favourite Brandon Stone to win the SA Open by two shots at Glendower GC in South Africa.
After completing his third round on Sunday morning, owing to storm delays, Brandon Stone took a two shot lead over England’s Daniel Brooks into round four.
Although 22-year-old Stone started the final 18 holes promisingly with birdies at his second and fourth holes, things began to unravel for the young South African either side of the turn. He bogeyed six of seven holes from the 5th to the 11th and, briefly, Daniel Brooks who won the 2014 Madeira Islands Open, took a two shot lead of his own. Stone’s stumble also allowed his countryman Christiaan Bezuidenhoust back into the frame as he raced to the turn in 33 and picked up a further shot at the 10th.
But Stone steadied himself from the 12th hole onward and birdies there, the 13th, 15th and 16th saw him re-establish his position at the top of the leaderboard. Neither Brooks nor Bezuidenhoust could match that burst and Stone was able to hold on for the victory. Bezuidenhoust made a birdie at his final hole to take second spot on his own, with Brooks a shot back, alone in third.
3 Talking points from the BMW SA Open hosted by City of Ekurhuleni
1 – This was a career-changing week for Brandon Stone. The young South African earned playing rights on the European Tour thanks to finishing 14th on last year’s Challenge Tour rankings. At the end of last year he claimed a maiden victory on the Sunshine Tour. At just 22, he is the youngest ever winner of the SA Open and he joins South African legends of the game like Bobby Locke, Gary Player, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen as home winners of the event.
“It’s too good to be true,” he said. “I’m overcome with emotions at the moment.” Stone has earned a European Tour exemption to the end of the 2016 season.
2 – It was quite a week for Christian Bezudenhout who ended the tournament alone in second. The 21-year-old had just three previous starts on the European Tour and had made only one cut prior to this event. This result marks a great turnaround for the youngster. Back in 2014 he was found to have been inadvertently taking a banned substance (beta blockers) to combat a stutter and he served a nine-month suspension as a result. He has clearly bounced back from that unfortunate mistake and we could well be seeing a good deal more of this talented youngster as 2016 continues.
3 – Two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen finished the event strongly with four birdies in his last six holes. The 45-year-old was making his first start on the European Tour since The Open Championship last July and this performance could well mark a welcome return to form. Goose ended the week at Glendower in a tie for fourth place.
Retief Goosen swing sequence:
The BMW SA Open hosted by City of Ekurhuleni
Glendower GC, City of Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, South Africa
Purse: €900,000, par 72
1 Brandon Stone (RSA) 71 67 65 71 274 €158,500
2 Christaan Bezuidenhoust (RSA) 70 69 70 67 276 €115,000
3 Daniel Brooks (Eng) 68 67 70 72 277 €69,200
T4 Retief Goosen (RSA) 68 72 69 70 279 €38,825
T4 Branden Grace (RSA) 69 68 72 70 279 €38,825
T4 Keith Horne (RSA) 67 69 72 71 279 €38,825
T4 Justin Walters (RSA) 68 70 70 71 279 €38,825
T8 Trevor Fisher jnr (RSA) 71 73 66 70 280 €23,100
T8 Daniel Im (USA) 73 70 72 68 280 €23,100
T10 Dean Burmester (RSA) 70 70 72 69 281 €18,750
T10 Mark William (Zim) 71 69 72 69 281 €18,750
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage