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Brandon Stone loving life back on the DP World Tour after battling back from career low

Brandon Stone loving life back on the DP World Tour after battling back from career low

By Mathieu Wood

Brandon Stone admits it wasn’t long ago he found himself in the depths of golfing despair.

“At the end of 2022 I was playing probably the worst golf I’d ever played since I was a kid,” he says.

Four years on from his career-best win at the 2018 Scottish Open – a Rolex Series event – the South African was without full DP World Tour playing privileges after finishing 129th in the Race to Dubai Rankings.

As Stone recalls, it was a case of needing to essentially start again from scratch. His status as a three-time DP World Tour winner didn’t count for anything.

“I needed to step back, take a broad look at the game and reassess where I was, what I could work on and build from the foundation up,” he says. “We did just that.”

He returned to the European Challenge Tour, from where he graduated to the DP World Tour in 2015.

Being back in familiar territory was huge in helping him rekindle the form that saw him claim three titles on golf’s Global Tour from 2016 to 2018, capped by his sensational final-round 60 at Gullane as he lifted one of European golf’s most prized titles.

“Last year was fantastic from a confidence point of viewing, seeing that I could compete and shoot good scores again on the Challenge Tour,” the 30-year-old reflects.

Across his 20 starts on the Challenge Tour last season, Stone registered six top tens including a runner-up finish at the B-NL Challenge Trophy in the Netherlands.

Heading into the season-ending Rolex Challenge Tour Grand Final supported by The R&A, Stone arrived in the final card-clinching spot in the season-long battle for 20 coveted DP World Tour cards.

Amid intense pressure, he finished in a tie for 11th at Club de Golf Alcanada to secure a return at the first time of asking.

“When it came to those South African events at the end of last year, I just had no steam left,” he reflects on three missed cuts in four events at the end of last year on the DP World Tour.

“The Challenge Tour was so brutal and that last day in Mallorca was the most nerve-wracking experience I’ve had in many years. I felt like I ran out of juice.”

But now after a good break in his homeland, Stone is awash with optimism after a first-round eight-under-par 64 left him in a share of second place after the opening day of this week’s Ras Al Khaimah Championship, the first of three planned starts in a row in the Middle East.

“This off period in South Africa has been spectacular,” he adds. “Being able to spend so much time with my wife, my dogs and my family has been really good.

“Coming here I felt like I was really excited to board a plane for the first time in a few years. I’m happy it translated into a good score today, let’s hope that enthusiasm remains over the coming season.”

Well, based on his first-round finish at Al Hamra Golf Club in what is his first start of the new year, he is right to be feeling good about his prospects for the rest of the campaign.

Coming here I felt like I was really excited to board a plane for the first time in a few years.

Four birdies and an eagle across his closing seven holes on Thursday leave him two adrift of early pacesetter Callum Shinkwin.

“It was fantastic to finish the way I did,” he says. “I felt like I’d been playing great leading into the event, so I was looking forward to today, which was a new feeling.

“I was really excited to get going, felt like my game was in a great place and I’m happy that that translated into a good score today.”

Now, with a renewed sense of optimism, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see Stone back in the mix for big titles just like he was earlier in his career.

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