A Stone’s throw from victory

2014 Joburg Open: Day 4Brandon Stone will tee up at the Northern Ireland Open with fond memories of his fifth-place finish there last year, and his recent form makes him a shoe-in to finally clinch a win.

The 22-year-old is clearly a fan of Galgorm Castle, host of this week’s tournament, where he broke 70 in all four tournament rounds last year.

He heads into the week on a run of good form, having recently finished seventh at the Madeira Islands Open after finishing the tournament on 14-under-par.

This season has been good for Stone, who finished second at the season-opening Barlcays Kenya Open, where he lost in a playoff.

In his 11 starts on the Challenge Tour this year he’s made the cut eight times and currently ranks 13th in the Race to Oman, which is the Challenge Tour’s Order of Merit.

Eight events remain before the Challenge Tour Grand Final, and a victory in Northern Ireland this week would almost guarantee Stone’s place at the season finale.

Haydn Porteous is also likely to contend this week, with the 21-year-old having played the Northern Ireland Open back in 2013, where he made the cut before bowing out with a final-round 80.

This time around a very different player faces Galgorm Castle, one who has a Challenge Tour victory under his belt and ranks 12th in the Race to Oman.

Since his win in Kenya the Modderfontein Golf Club member has made five cuts in nine starts, with a top result of tied-fifth at the Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge.

This week is likely to be a defining moment in Porteous’ season, as he looks to kickstart the second half of 2015 with a big result.

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