Brandon Stone will go into today’s final round of the BMW International Open in Munich eager to make up ground on one of the hottest golfers in world.
He played the third round with Italy’s Matteo Manassero, who is a day older than he has and already has four European Tour titles to his credit – while Stone is making his professional debut.
Stone carded a five-under-par 67 in his third round to move to 12-under-par 204, three of the pace set jointly by Ernie Els, France’s Alexander Levy and Sweden’s Alex Noren, turning his first professional tournament into a realistic shot at what would be an extraordinary victory.
While Manassero was on his way to a one-under 71, and a share of 17th, four shots behind Stone, the youthful duo exchanged banter about other sports: “We had a great day out there,” said Stone. “We chatted about soccer and cricket. He’s a fantastic guy.
“He’s a day older than me and it really shows,” he laughed. “He’s got four victories already, and I’m only getting started. I have to do some work to catch up to him. He’s been one of those guys I’ve been watching for the last two or three years, knowing that he’s my age and wanting to see if I can do what he can do.
“Coming here this week, that’s all that my objective is – to see if maybe at the end of the week, I can get a win,” he said.
He’s under no illusions about how difficult it might be. “There are definitely going to be some nerves on the first tee box, but my caddie will definitely settle me down a little bit and help me feel a little calmer than yesterday,” he said, referring to his battling one-under 71 in the second round. “But I’m definitely looking forward to it.
“You can’t really have too many expectations of your first professional tournament. I hope I’m going to be inside the top 10 by the end of the third round, and I’m going to give myself a shot to win, which is breath-taking,” he added.
He will go into the final round knowing that he can do more to try and make the extraordinary dream come true. He missed a birdie putt on the par-five 18th in his third round was particularly annoyed by that.
“It left a little sting in me,” he said. “I think it’s going to make me hungry for the final round and make me go and try hole everything.”