Wednesday, 10 February 2016
Brandon Stone  (Getty Images)
Brandon Stone (Getty Images)

Brandon Stone believes South African golf is in rude health as The European Tour International Schedule makes its final trip to the Rainbow Nation before the Final Series in November.

Pretoria Country Club hosts the fourth Tshwane Open this week with defending champion George Coetzee and South African veterans like Charl Schwartzel and Richard Sterne facing a new generation nipping at their heels.

Stone, 22, claimed his first European Tour win at the the BMW SA Open hosted by City of Ekurhuleni in January and that was followed by 21 year old Haydn Porteous' maiden victory at the Joburg Open a week later.

But they are not the only South Africans on the rise, with 21 year old Zander Lombard securing two top fives in his three starts this season and Christiaan Bezuidenhout, also 21, finishing second behind Stone at Glendower Country Club.

Combine all that with 2016 season victories for Schwartzel and Branden Grace, and it is highly possible that a South African could be challenging for The Race to Dubai when The European Tour returns to the country for the Nedbank Golf Challenge at the end of the year.

Whether a challenge comes from an experienced campaigner or a young gun remains to be seen, but Stone is delighted to be among those leading the charge for South African golf.

"It's awesome," he said. "I think this week is going to be a fantastic event because, you've got George who is playing on his home course and he loves it and he's actually playing well and has his form back after coming back from injury.

"I was speaking to Charl last night and he said he's back to 100 per cent health now and he's hungry to play. He just wants to get his game going and he wants to play golf which is always key for Charl. When he gets on and when he wants to play he's extremely tough to beat.

"And then guys like Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Zander Lombard, myself and Haydn Porteous, the younger guys challenging those older guys, it sets up for a good little duel during the course of the week.

I think the young guys are going to be putting up a good fight, but George and Charl and Richard Sterne and those guys are definitely no slouches - Brandon Stone

Porteous comes into this week fresh off a top ten finish at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and he admits that challenging alongside the likes of Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson has boosted his confidence.

"These last three weeks in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar were a new experience and it was a good week last week in Dubai with a top ten finish. It's just a great experience," he said.

"I think it really opened up my eyes, I actually deserve to be there and I can keep up with the boys who are top ten in the world."

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Pos Player nameNatHolePar
3MICHAEL, AnthonyRSA18-6
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T4STERNE, RichardRSA18-5

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