Top SA amateur Stone leaves the amateur ranks

Top South African amateur Brandon Stone announced his decision to join the professional ranks on Wednesday, 5 June 2013 and will make his pro debut at the BMW International Open on a sponsor’s exemption later this month.

Stone dominated the South African Golf Association rankings for the better part of 2011 and 2012. Named Golf Digest Amateur of the Year in 2011, Stone represented South Africa at junior and senior level, including as a member of South Africa’s 2012 Eisenhower Trophy. The Els Club golfer was ranked number one in the country when he took up a golf scholarship at the University of Texas in August last year.

Stone certainly had a freshman year to remember. He won the 2013 Big Conference Player, Big Conference Newcomer of the Year, the Bayou City Collegiate Championship and the Big 12 Championship.

Over the last four years he has amassed a staggering 18 titles and only last week was named the 2013 NCAA Freshman of the Year and a Ping First Team All-American. According to GolfWeek, Stone finished his first season in Texas ranked second in the collegiate rankings.

Stone will be joining compatriots Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Branden Grace, Trevor Immelman and Richard Sterne at IMG. The global sports, fashion and media company, for exclusive worldwide management and marketing representation. He will also be signing deals with Ping and Titleist/Footjoy ahead of his pro debut.

Although he initially intended to follow former top SA amateur Dylan Frittelli and finish the four-year college degree, Stone said that after one season at Texas University he felt ready to leave the amateur ranks.

“It is earlier than I intended, but I feel that I’m ready to turn pro,” he said.

“I have had an amazing year in Texas and I would like to thank the University of Texas Golf Department for their support. I am very excited to turn professional and get started with the next phase of my golf career, though.

“I spoke to a lot of management companies but IMG, with all of their offices around the world and many decades of experience, make them the perfect fit for me. Initially, I will need invitations to play and IMG has the global influence to ensure I get the opportunities to compete in the right tournaments to give myself the best possible chance to win cards in Europe and the US.

“My first start will be at the BMW International Open and I am very grateful for the opportunity BMW are giving me and hope I reward them with a great performance.”

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