Wednesday, 12 December 2018
Brandon Stone at the Alfred Dunhill Championship  (Getty Images)
Brandon Stone at the Alfred Dunhill Championship (Getty Images)

Brandon Stone cannot wait to get his unconventional defence of the Alfred Dunhill Championship under way this week at the new-look Leopard Creek Country Club.

The South African won this event in the 2017 season but has had to wait two years to make his defence as the layout underwent extensive changes.

Despite those alterations, the property on the edge of the Kruger National Park still has a feeling like no other on the European Tour, and Stone is itching to get started.

“It is fantastic to come back here as a defending champion,” he said. “Any time a privilege to come, Leopard Creek is quite special.

“They have done a lot of changes. Obviously (owner) Mr Johann Rupert wasn’t too happy about me winning by seven last time! So it is fantastic.

“The changes that have been made are fantastic. The new grass is one of my favourite grasses around the world. The condition of the golf course is ten out of ten. It should be a fun week.

“Anytime you get to come here, it is special. The environment is so relaxed, you feel like your entire aura, your entire energy just seems to chill down a few notches and you just feel comfortable. Whether that would be on a Monday, Tuesday or whether come Sunday afternoon, you just feel that you are at that ease level.”

Stone's maiden Rolex Series victory at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open propelled him to a career-high finish of 25th on the 2018 Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex.

It is fantastic to come back here as a defending champion. Any time a privilege to come, Leopard Creek is quite special - Brandon Stone

He started the new campaign with a top ten at the South African Open hosted by the City of Johannesburg and feels his game is in a good place to extend his winning run to four consecutive seasons.

“I am excited for the week,” he said. “My game is feeling like it is in a good, sound, very stable position at the moment. I really feel like I am swinging the club nicely.

“It feels like the putting stroke is slowly coming back to me. I managed to hole a few more putts on the weekend at the South African Open Championship. It feels like it is all coming together.

“It feels like I really wish that it was not the end of the season and more the start of the season to try and capitalise on that. But, hopefully, over the Christmas break, I can just build on these good results and see if I come up with some in January.”

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1LIPSKY, DavidUSA18-14
2DRYSDALE, DavidSCO18-12
T3LOMBARD, ZanderRSA18-11
T5WILSON, OliverENG18-8

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