Brandon Stone became the youngest winner of the BMW SA Open since it became part of the European Tour with a final-round 71 to finish 14-under on Sunday, defeating fellow South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout by two strokes.
Playing on the Challenger Tour just two months ago, Stone has rocketed up the charts. finishing tied for 18th at the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
An emotional Stone gave a history lesson as he accepted the trophy.
“To join the likes of Retief Goosen, Ernie Els, Trevor Immelman, and a whole bunch more, it’s really special,” Stone said. “It’s a prestigious event, especially for a South African golfer.”
Bezuidenhout’s closing charge as an impressive one. Ranked just 1,283rd in the world, he was 4-under through nine with consecutive birdies on 8, 9, and 10, before giving a stroke back with a bogey on No. 11. He was 3-under the rest of the way, but a bogey on No. 17 deflated his chances significantly.
Stone looked ready to choke the lead away early on, staggering through a stretch of six bogeys in seven holes to sit 3-over through 11 holes. But playing far beyond his 22 years Stone turned things around with a birdie on No. 12, then rattled off three more over the next four holes to achieve separation.
England’s Daniel Brooks started the day 11-under and was 1-under through nine holes on Sunday. That looked highly advantageous for Brooks entering the back nine, where he had gone 11-under for the tournament with 11 birdies and no bogeys in the first 27 holes.
But that wasn’t the case on Sunday as Brooks faltered with a bogey on No. 10, another on 18 and was just 1-over on the back nine.
Seven of the top 10 men on the leaderboard were South Africans, and an eighth, Mark Williams, hails from Zimbabwe.
Retief Goosen made a strong effort with a 70 on Sunday to finish tied for fourth at 9-under. The 46-year-old Goosen was after his first win on the European Tour since 2007.