Gauteng premier David Makhura in no doubt about who he thinks the star of this year's SA Open should be
The brightest attraction in the field for this year's SA Open‚ which tees off here on Thursday‚ may be former world No1 Rory McIlroy but Gauteng premier David Makhura was in no doubt about who he thinks the star of the show should be.
At the tournament's Pro Am gala dinner on Tuesday night Makhura stopped short of instructing defending champion Brandon Stone to repeat the feat on the same lay-out he achieved his biggest success last year.
Some may regard it as unwanted pressure on Stone but the 23-year old was certainly cool and composed earlier in the day.
After all‚ he has little to fret given his performance here last year and his recent form.
First though‚ he's had to give himself a bit of a dust down.
“I think Monday's round got a bit of the rust of December off. I wasn’t really planning on firing on all cylinders. I wasn’t quite sure.
"The game felt good but you never really know after December break how it’s going to pan out.
"Sixty one doesn’t hurt the confidence coming back from Leopard Creek‚ considering I only played four rounds of golf since then‚ and stroke average is comfortably under 80 so I’m very happy.”
Despite his success last year which yielded the SA Open‚ the Alfred Dunhill Championships as well as Olympic participation in Rio‚ Stone has retained his feet-to-the-ground self-deprecating humour.
Last year here he labelled himself a whipper-snapper.
“(I'm) still a whipper-snapper with a fancy parking this year; that’s the only thing that’s changed. Still the same person that I’ve always been.
“I played with a few amateurs‚ Dylan Naidoo and Marco Steyn on Monday who gave me a little perspective when we walked up the 18th green.
"Dylan came up to me and said 'so what were you feeling last year on Monday?'
“I can remember vividly‚ (on that) Monday I took a photo walking up the 18th and I said (on social media) ‘grand stand finish‚ how incredible is this going to be?’ Then ironically on the following Monday the European Tour commented on that picture saying ‘did you think that come Sunday you will be walking up there as the SA champion?'
“So now in your Monday practice round you walk up there and you get same butterflies; you get emotion coming out again; it was very‚ very special.”
- TMG Digital