SA’s outsiders at The Open taking inspiration from Stone

SA’s outsiders at The Open taking inspiration from Stone

Zander Lombard. Photo: Michael Sherman/ANA.

Local golfers aren’t exactly being talked up ahead of this weekend’s third major of the year but last weekend’s events at the Scottish Open has given some hope.

South Africa’s Shaun Norris will take inspiration from compatriot Brandon Stone’s victory in the Scottish Open last week into The Open at Carnoustie Golf Links starting on Thursday.

Stone shot an incredible 10-under par 60 to win by four in the final round of the Scottish Open on Sunday to book his spot in the year’s third major at the very last opportunity.

“It was awesome to watch Stone win last week. I was really happy for him. I spoke to him, he was really struggling for a while and he worked through it and pulled off a big win. It shows the SA guys we can take on the world,” said Norris.

A total of 12 South Africans are set to tee it up in The Open.

“It’s really awesome to have so many of our own players out here, and to see more of our own guys taking on world golf. It’s just special to have so many [SA] guys here.”

With The Open being the only major hosted outside America, the event held the best chance of producing a South African winner according to Norris.

“The Open gives the SA players a great chance to win. We do have some similar conditions back home. I think our SA players are strong enough to compete for the big tournaments.

“I feel my game is strong enough to finish up the leaderboard, so I just want to get my name up there.”

Norris made his debut at The Open last year when he finished 62nd, and to return in 2018 still gave the 125th-ranked player in the world a unique thrill.

One of South Africa’s dark horse bets is Zander Lombard ahead.

The 444th-ranked player in the world, has made just four cuts this season on the European Tour, but it was at the Irish Open two weeks ago which helped earn his ticket to The Open. There he finished tied sixth on a hard and fast links layout just like the one expected at Carnoustie this week.

“My game has never been in better shape. I’m hitting it really well, chipping fantastically and my new Titleist is also amazing. I’m really looking to compete this week,” said Lombard.

“I took plenty of confidence from the Irish Open. It was bouncy and firm, and it’s the same here this week.

“We’re playing to win, and trying to be in contention over the last nine holes on Sunday.”

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