It seems unlikely that he will be able to reproduce the feelings that he had when he won last week’s BMW South African Open Championship, but Brandon Stone is determined to savour every moment of the Joburg Open which gets underway on Thursday.
The R16.5-million tournament is played on Royal Johannesburg and Kensington’s East and West courses – one round on each ahead of the cut and then the final two on the East Course – and it’s a place where the 22-year-old national champion has a bit of history.
“It’s always been a course I’ve been very fond of, Royal Johannesburg and Kensington, it’s a golf course that really suits my game, very similar to Glendower, a few more add-ons here and there, but I feel comfortable here,” he said. “You always feel comfortable when you sleep in your own bed, when you come to a tournament and a course you’ve played many times.
“I think they’re both good. I think the West is obviously a little bit lower scoring typically, which suites me to a tee. I do enjoy going low in a few rounds. The East is a fantastic golf course, not only off the tee, but your approach shots have to be on point which is quite unique for a golf course that has both tight tee shots and approaches.”
Getting over the hangover that that glare of media attention has brought him since his win last week at Glendower is going to be the trick. “It’s been chaos,” he said. “But it’s been a lot of fun and I’ve been enjoying it. Like I say a good night’s rest tonight and I’ll be ready.
“I think I obviously would just like to play well. I think score will be irrelevant for the first few days, but just to play nicely, enjoy it. And I get to play with the guy I’ve grown up watching. I just saw the draw now and it’s the first time I’m ever going to play with Ernie Els in a tournament. It’s going to be really special. Really, really special. To watch him make his way around a golf course like this, it’s going to be quite unique and quite fun.”
And while he’s having fun, he’ll be keeping his eye on the rest of the field and trying to do as well as he can in a golf tournament. “I think the way the course is now, it’s a bit soft, the green are good, so the winning total could be low,” he said. “There is always that one person that decides to show up for the week and shoot a ridiculously low number, and you never know whose going to do it this week.”
It could be Stone.