Stone sees bright future for SA’s young pros

Brandon Stone (Photo by Luke Walker/Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images)

Soweto professional Sipho Bujela delivered a powerful statement ahead of this week’s Joburg Open when he said, “I’ll be playing for the young amateur in Soweto who wishes to be a professional one day”.

And double European Tour champion Brandon Stone believes Bujela and others could well be that inspiration this week.

At a wet Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club on Tuesday, Stone said he believed the recent top performances by some of South Africa’s young black professional golfers is only going to increase.

“To see what Makhetha Mazibuko did at the PGA Championship was good, but it won’t end there. As the years progress you’re going to see more and more black golfers competing, but not just from South Africa. From Swaziland, Zambia, Kenya – all these guys are coming through now.”

The current leader on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit also singled out Bujela as somebody who could win one of the major European Tour events in South Africa, starting with this week’s Joburg Open.

“I played against Sipho as an amateur and he was incredible. On a Wednesday afternoon, he could walk onto the driving range and somebody could say to him, ‘Oh, your right grip’s a bit weak.

Strengthen it’ and he could go and shot 27 under par here like Richard Sterne did in 2013. It’s something so simple when you get to this level.”

In the past 10 years of the Joburg Open, there have been only three foreign winners, and Stone believes this has a lot to do with the growing depth in South African golf.

“It’s a hard tournament week to win in South Africa, and that’s why the Europeans sometimes struggle to compete against us. South African golfers on home soil are just so good. Players like Ruan de Smidt, Erik van Rooyen, Dylan Frittelli – all of these guys are hitting their stride.

“I mean, last week at the Dimension Data Pro-Am I think there were 14 players within two shots of the lead going into Sunday. That shows you the depth on the Sunshine Tour at the moment. Just like it was for me at the BMW SA Open last year, you want that platform to build from. These tournaments give you that opportunity.”

  AUTHOR
Michael Vlismas

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