Brandon Stone wins the Scottish Open
We'll take it? Thats, surely the understatement of his golf career. Stone (25) or better known to some of us as “Pebbles” became the fourth South African to win the Scottish Open after Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Tim Clark. More than 100 players were more fancied in the betting at the beginning of the week, which was no surprise.
Brandon is no stranger to any of us on the estate, having grown up “crawling” on the floor in his dads golf shop (Stoney’s Golf) at the time and 25 years on he still calls this his home. Brandon had already won twice on the European Tour (BMW SA Open in 2016 and Alfred Dunhill Championship in 2017), but none will come much sweeter than this.
Stone’s approach to the 18th green at the Scottish Open skipped on and came to rest about 8 feet from the hole. His caddy hadn’t let him look at a scoreboard all day, so it was only as Stone walked toward the green that he was informed he had a birdie putt for a 59.
Stone sank to his haunches and dropped his putter in despair after narrowly missing out on becoming the first player in history to shoot a round of 59 on the European Tour.
Stone let his caddy read the line — “This is completely up to you,” Stone told him — and it looked like the putt was going to roll into the cup before it curled just left. He slumped almost to his knees, put both hands to his face, then stared at the ball for some time.
“I rolled it over his mark,” Stone said of his caddy, “but he did criticize my pace so he is probably right. Didn’t hold its line, but we’ll take it.”
That elusive sub-60 round in 46 years of European Tour play will have to wait for another tournament. It was officially the 19th round of 60 on the tour — 18 players have achieved the feat, with Darren Clarke doing so twice.
There have officially been nine sub-60 rounds on the PGA Tour, with one of them being a 58 — by Jim Furyk at the Travelers Championship in 2016.
For the No. 371-ranked Stone, it was a return to form after a disappointing season. He had missed the cut at nine of his previous 16 events and recorded only two finishes inside the top 60 in 20 starts since October.
Stone’s 10-under 60 secured a four-shot victory at the Scottish Open on Sunday, earning him a third professional title of his career — the first outside of South Africa — and the bonus prize of a qualifying spot at the following week’s British Open at Carnoustie.
“When that thing went home, the emotions came flooding,” Stone said. “I had to really struggle to keep it in. It’s been a long 18-month journey making a few changes, but the swing felt incredible today, the putting even better and the mental state was flawless.
“A day when you shoot 60 and win the Scottish Open is something I’m going to hold dear to my heart for a very long time.”
Stone rolled in four birdies on his front nine Sunday, then more on Nos. 10, 12, 14 and 15. He curled in a 40-foot eagle putt at No. 16, virtually guaranteeing him the win and leaving him needing one birdie on his final two holes for a 59.
Stone’s run of back-nine birdies allowed him to pull clear of Eddie Pepperell, who led for much of the final round after picking up six strokes in his first 10 holes. He shot 64 to finish alone in second place, one clear of Luke List (64), 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman (65) and unheralded Swede Jens Dantorp (68).
Pepperell and Dantorp joined Stone in securing last-gasp places at the British Open, for being the leading three players not otherwise exempt for Carnoustie who finished in the top 10.
Rickie Fowler, the champion the last time the Scottish Open was staged at Gullane in 2015, shot 68 and was in a three-way tie for sixth place.
Following his victory, Stone had to quickly find some accommodation and cancel his tour of some of Scotland’s finest whisky distilleries due to the small matter of playing in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie.
"We were planning on returning our rental car, renting a small job and driving all the way to Islay to do a few of the distilleries on that side, but instead I’ll be playing Carnoustie,"
Stone had felt some familiarity on the windswept northeast Scottish coast because he was one of 12 South Africans in the field, and one of 5 to make the cut ending in joint 61st.
There is no doubt that our local resident should start getting comfortable Playing amongst the likes of Tiger Woods, Jordan Speith and Dustin Johnson to name a few, as he now sits in good stead for the year ahead.
“On behalf of the Centurion Home Owners, we congratulate you “Pebbles”, the community is extremely proud of what you are achieving and that you still choose to call our estate your home” Said Chris Bentley (CHOA Director).
“I can't begin to thank everyone here enough for all the messages and support, I have the privilege of doing what I love and travelling to wonderful places around the world, but im pleased to say there is no place like home and our estate ranks with the best of them” Said, Stone on his return from the Open Championship.