Brandon Stone of South Africa on the fourth green during the third round of the 100th PGA Championship. Photo: Erik S Lesser/EPA
Brandon Stone of South Africa on the fourth green during the third round of the 100th PGA Championship. Photo: Erik S Lesser/EPA

Defending champ Stone leads SA charge in Scotland

By Iqbal Khan Time of article published Jul 11, 2019

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The next two weeks are crucial for some of the top golfers in the world and a host of aspiring young South Africans as the European Tour stages the Scottish Open, starting today, followed by the final Major of the year, The Open Championship.

In 2018 young Mount Edgecombe Country Club’s Brandon Stone had a sensational final round 60 to win the title and it turned his season into a vintage one.

Stone has been playing well but has not hit the top of his game and the fact that he is defending his title this week, he could be one of the picks among the many South Africans in the field at Renaissance Club in North Berwick.

Another player sure to catch the eye is Justin Harding, who has been one of the most improved South Africans on the circuit this year, moving from 85th in the world to 48th thanks largely to his victory in the Qatar Masters early this year.

Harding had a good US Masters, finishing tied for 12th spot, and has played consistently well on both the European and PGA Tours.

The other South Africans in this week’s field in Scotland are Branden Grace, Ernie Els, Trevor Immelman, Dean Burmester, Haydn Porteous, Darren Fichardt, George Coetzee, Richard Sterne, Thomas Aiken, Erik van Rooyen, Jacques Kruyswijk, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Justin Walters, Jaco van Zyl, Louis de Jager and Zander Lombard.

Stone of South Africa is the defending champion at the Scottish Open, starting today. Photo: EPA/Tannen Maury

Meanwhile, TaylorMade had one of their best weekends when two of their staff pros were victorious on the European and PGA Tours.

John Rahm won the Irish Open on the European Tour, while Matthew Wolff recorded his maiden win at the 3M Open on the PGA Tour in just his third start on the Tour and fourth as a professional. For Rahm it was his second Irish Open win, the first coming 2017.

He was on fire at the weekend with rounds of 64 on Saturday and 62 on Sunday - tying his lowest European Tour round - to capture his second Irish title by two shots. He became the first player to win three Rolex Series titles on the European Tour.

The win also moved Rahm back into the top 10 on the world golf rankings and into pole position on the Race to Dubai standings.

Rahm’s win was his fourth European Tour victory and his eighth global win, while it was the 13th Tour win for TaylorMade’s new M5 and M6 drivers which feature the ground-breaking twist face technology.

This weekend Rahm will be at the Scottish Open in North Berwick and then it will be on to The Open at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, which usually heads up the list of top golf courses in Britain and Ireland a week later.

Meanwhile, Wolff, who decided to make changes to his equipment before last week's tournament, eagled the 72nd hole to win in dramatic fashion by one stroke at the 3M Open - the 14th global win for TaylorMade.

Powering his way around the course with the TaylorMade M6 driver, he beat stablemate Colin Morikawa and Bryson DeChambeau into a tie for second place. He’s one of only three people to win an NCAA (college) tournament and a PGA Tour title in the same year, Tiger Woods and Ben Crenshaw being the other two.

Wolff, who is a dynamic wedge player - he employs a three-wedge set-up (in addition to a pitching wedge) - is projected to rise more than 1 500 places in the world rankings from 1 659th into the top 150.

Iqbal Khan

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