South Africa’s Brandon Stone will head back to Leopard Creek next week with the positive memories of being a former winner of the Alfred Dunhill Championship, but with a very different focus to his career having regained his DP World Tour card for this current season.
The 2016 champion of this Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned event joins another quality field for the 7-10 December championship including defending champion Ockie Strydom, double PGA Tour champion Erik van Rooyen, recent Joburg Open champion Dean Burmester, Major winners Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, and former Alfred Dunhill Championship winners Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Branden Grace.
“There’s an immense sense of gratitude going back to Leopard Creek as a previous winner of the Alfred Dunhill Championship. At the same time, there is that part in all of us as professional golfers that wants your name on that trophy more than once. That’s the objective for me,” said Stone.
Stone’s victory in 2016 came amidst a prolific period in world golf for him when he won the Investec South African Open that same year. In 2018 he added a third DP World Tour title with the Genesis Scottish Open and achieved his best finish in a Major of 12th in the PGA Championship.
But what followed was a challenging period in which he lost his playing privileges on the DP World Tour. He worked his way back onto the main circuit through the European Challenge Tour this year and believes he’s a different player this time around.
“I needed to go back and find myself and my game again. I needed to remind myself of who I was as a person and a player. Looking back to the man I was a year ago, I’m almost unrecognisable. I’m back to my former self and really enjoying what I’m doing.”
But while his career may have evolved, Stone says his love for Leopard Creek has never changed.
“It’s the best place on earth – simply put. I cannot wait to get to Leopard Creek every single year. The whole atmosphere there just makes you feel a little bit more at ease. The golf course is obviously spectacular, and the setting is just as good. The energy I get from just being there in nature makes me feel a little different to any other week on tour. I’m so excited to get back.”