European Tour

Brandon Stone pleased with Dubai fightback as he surges up world rankings

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South African golfer Brandon Stone
South African golfer Brandon Stone
Andrew Redington/Getty Images/Supplied
  • South African golfer Brandon Stone fought back on the final day at this past weekend's Dubai Desert Classic. 
  • Stone posted an even-par final round to finish solo second behind winner Paul Casey.
  • Stone also fulfilled his "boyhood dream" when he was paired alongside Sergio Garcia in the final round.

South African golfer Brandon Stone was pleased with his fightback as he battled in the final round of the Dubai Desert Classic this past weekend.

Stone posted an even-par final round as he finished second on 13-under - four shots behind England's Paul Casey.

The 27-year-old was three over after six holes at Emirates Golf Club on Sunday but pulled his way through to make four birdies on the back nine.

"It felt horrible... (on the front nine). Felt like I was doing a couple of rounds with Mike Tyson," said Stone following his final round.

"Felt like I couldn't get the ball on the green, I felt like I was putting from a distance and every time I was putting I was putting for par."

Stone admitted that winning was never on his radar as Casey cruised to his 15th European Tour title.

"It wasn't much of a consideration... after the first seven holes I was three-over-par... I didn't even think about winning a tournament anymore," he said.

"It was more of a case of playing good golf and that's the kind of mentality for the last few months and it's served me well so far. Hopefully, I can carry that with me through the rest of the season."

While it was certainly not Stone's day, the South African pocketed a cool €282 134 (R5.1m) for his efforts.

Stone also jumped 95 places in the Official World Golf Rankings, moving from 205th to 110th.

After his stellar fightback on the back nine, Stone is looking to carry his performance in Dubai into this week's Saudi International.

"I'm obviously extremely proud of the performance I put up this week. Played some lovely golf, considering I was two or three over through five holes on Thursday. So it's a fantastic fightback," he said.

"To finish level par in the conditions that we had and all the pressure is something I'm very proud of.

"It's definitely something to build on and something to help motivate me for the weeks to come and at the moment, as good as this week has been, I'm focusing on Saudi next week and maybe try and grab one or two places better."

He is now back inside South Africa's top 10 and moved to fifth on the European Tour's Race to Dubai rankings.

Stone also got to play his final round alongside 2017 Masters champion Sergio Garcia, who he considers a childhood hero.

"Anytime you're going to be in contention here at the Emirates, it's quite special," he said.

"The illustrious list of winners that have their name on the trophy is quite special. And on top of all that, I got to play with Sergio which is like a boyhood dream come true."

The European Tour is in Saudi Arabia for Thursday's opening round at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club.

- Compiled by Lynn Butler

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