Compleat Golfer playing editor Brandon Stone tees it up in this week’s Joburg Open, determined to complete ‘the trilogy of victories’ in Sunshine Tour co-sanctioned tournaments at Randpark Golf Club.
Stone has already won the South African Open and the Alfred Dunhill Championship, which are co-sanctioned with the European Tour. The return of the Joburg Open to the European Tour schedule gives him the chance to complete his trilogy when this tournament starts on Thursday.
‘The Joburg Open is the last leg of the trilogy of Sunshine Tour co-sanctioned tournaments that I’m going for. I’d love to add this one as a win this week,’ Stone said on Tuesday.
But in the bigger picture of a tumultuous 2020, Stone is fully appreciative that he and fellow professionals simply have the Joburg Open as the start of three big weeks of competitive golf in South Africa, including the Alfred Dunhill Championship and the South African Open.
‘The reward of having three big tournaments in South Africa now is fantastic. We’re extremely fortunate to actually play tournament golf this year, especially when you look at other sports around the world and how limited they’ve been.
‘The work that the European Tour and Sunshine Tour have done is simply sensational. You can see the people in charge have been working tirelessly to get us back out here again. I’m very fortunate to be in an occupation where I’m playing for R19.5 million on a beautiful golf course in beautiful weather, so there are worse places you could be and sometimes you need to just remind yourself of that.’
Having experienced the stringent Covid-19 testing protocols on the European Tour, Stone fully praised the work done by the Sunshine Tour and City of Johannesburg to ensure the safety of the professionals competing this week.
‘Once I arrived on-site and went through all the testing and protocols, you could see everyone here knows what they’re doing. They’ve spent a lot of time and effort in getting the Joburg Open to the standard it needs to be under Covid-19 and, to be honest, I think they’ve excelled. It’s sensational. The lab and testing were so professional. There’s nothing enjoyable about taking a Covid-19 test, but having someone with a smile on their face do it to you sure helps. South Africans are known for their positive attitude in challenging times, and this week has been no exception to that.’
And, Stone feels his own form is peaking at exactly the right time for his return to home fairways.
‘It’s been a strange year for everyone. I had a few nice results before lockdown, and then over the last few months I’ve been slowly getting back to that kind of form again. My game feels like it’s coming together nicely. I also love this golf course. The greens are always fantastic here, and you have a really nice mix here of some strong holes and those that are a little more forgiving.’