Golf 3.9.2018 04:11 pm

In-form Stone wants to keep it local at Nedbank Challenge

Brandon Stone of South Africa lines up a putt on the first green during the second round of the 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club on August 10, 2018 in St Louis, Missouri.   Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images/AFP

Brandon Stone of South Africa lines up a putt on the first green during the second round of the 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club on August 10, 2018 in St Louis, Missouri. Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images/AFP

The 25-year-old wants to emulate Branden Grace in being a local winner of Africa’s major.

Brandon Stone will make his third appearance in the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City from November 8 to 11, with the young star hoping for another South African victory in the penultimate Rolex Series event on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.

Stone claimed the third European Tour victory of his career when he won the Scottish Open in July with a final round of 60, and in the fifth Rolex Series tournament of the season.

He followed this with a finish of tied 12th in the US PGA Championship, his best result in a Major.

“I’m delighted to be making my third appearance in the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player. To play in front of your home fans is always special, and particularly at Sun City. The support we get there as South African players is phenomenal,” said Stone.

Branden Grace’s victory in the 2017 Nedbank Golf Challenge was the first home triumph in this event since 2007, and it has inspired Stone to try and add his name to this event’s illustrious list of champions.

“Last year Branden ended a lengthy drought between South African wins in ‘Africa’s Major’, and I’d love to follow him and add my name to that list.

“To be playing in the Rolex Series events on the European Tour ultimately means you are having a good season. My victory in the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open and then to finish tied 12th in the US PGA Championship is validation of the hard work I have put into my game this season.”

The 25-year-old Stone is currently 13th on the Race to Dubai Rankings, and with two of his three European Tour victories having come on home soil, he will favour his chances at the Sun City layout.

He joins countrymen Grace and George Coetzee as the early confirmations in a field that also currently includes Major champions Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia.

Tournament host Gary Player said: “It’s always special to have our next generation of South African stars so committed to the future of the Nedbank Golf Challenge and golf in South Africa. Branden Grace’s victory last year has inspired so many of them to follow in his footsteps. The last time we had back-to-back South African wins in the Nedbank Golf Challenge was Ernie Els in 1999 and 2000.”

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