Emotional Stone claims South African Open title


Brandon Stone was reduced to tears after he won the South African Open Championship on home soil by two shots from compatriot Christiaan Bezuidenhout to claim his maiden European Tour title.

Stone became the 13th South African winner of the second-oldest national Open Championship since it was added to the European Tour calendar in 1997, despite making six bogeys in a one-under final round of 71 to finish 14 under.

The 22-year-old and Englishman Daniel Brooks held a share of the lead when they returned to finish their third rounds on Sunday after play was cut short for a third day in a row on Saturday due to the weather.

Stone made birdies at the 12th, 13th and 16th to take a two-shot advantage into the final round, but made life difficult for himself following a turnaround of under an hour after picking up further shots at the second and fourth holes.

The leader bogeyed the fifth and then found the water with his tee shot at the sixth to drop another shot, with a further four bogeys coming in the next five holes to set the alarm bells ringing.

Brooks had bogeyed the second, but moved back into a share of the lead when he had to settle for a birdie at the eighth after just failing to land an eagle putt, but became the outright leader when Stone bogeyed the 10th.

Bezuidenhout also birdied the eighth to join Stone in second place and the pair were two shots adrift of Brooks when they both bogeyed the 11th, but the leader was pegged back when he dropped a shot at the 10th.

There was a three-way share of the lead in a tense final round before Stone regained his composure to rattle off four birdies in the last eight holes.

Bezuidenhout bogeyed the penultimate hole to see his challenge slip away as he finished with a 67, while Brooks finished three shots back following a closing 72 which included three birdies and as many bogeys.

Retief Goosen, Branden Grace, Justin Walters and Keith Horne were tied fourth on nine under, as seven South Africans finished in the top 10.