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July 15, 2018

Brandon Stone

Gullane, Scotland

THE MODERATOR: Brandon, welcome and congratulations.

BRANDON STONE: Thank you very much.

THE MODERATOR: So your third European title, your first Rolex Series win, a 60, you're into the Open. Pretty good week's work, would you say?

BRANDON STONE: Yeah. I think if you're going to do it, you should do it properly. Right? Yeah, it was incredible today. Really tough to summon the words. Don't have the education or the vocabulary to do so, so I'm not going to try. It was just one of those days where everything went right. Hit it spectacularly, drove the ball really well, managed the emotions really well, too. I mean I could say there was those moments during the round where I thought it was my time for the week, and that putt on 16 was great to have made eagle on 16 in that dramatic fashion to extend the lead was obviously monumental. And yeah, can't really say much more than that.

THE MODERATOR: And you probably know that we were all on 59 watch, but was that something that was on your mind? Were you aware of that.

BRANDON STONE: The first time that I was made aware of it or not really made aware, became aware was walking onto 18th green. I didn't have a clue. I forgot what I had started the day on, so when I walked on to the final green, I actually looked at the scoreboard and started trying to count the birdies and eagles that were on the score card for the day. Managed to do the mathematical equation and looked at my caddy and I said, oh. And he's like, yeah. We've got a shot at it. So the moment that I knew I said to him, you're reading this one. There's no ways I'm going to be reading this. It's been spectacular all week. In my defense it rolled over his line. In his defense he said it lacked some pace. So we'll settle on the 60.

Q. There's never been a 59 on the European Tour?
BRANDON STONE: Yes. Well aware. I remember my first year out on tour I remember playing the Portugal Masters, and Scott Jamieson had it going. And he was, I think, three groups behind me, and I'd waited and the scores turned, and I watched his brush by the edge there for the 59, too. So there's some bad juju when it comes to the 59 on the European Tour for some reason, but with the standard of golf that we've got in Europe at the moment, I'm pretty sure it's going to happen sooner rather than later.

Q. What would you estimate the length of the eagle putt was, and I don't know if you were aware on the TV coverage it looked like it hit outside the line or it rolled in very late. Describe that putt for us.
BRANDON STONE: Yeah. I think the 15 minutes that I had after my round before the guys finished I was going through a little bit of social media, and my caddy was showing me a few videos that all of our friends had sent us. It was quite weird because I'd written in my yardage book I had keep it below that flag, and when I walked onto that green, it obviously had the ginormous slope to it, and actually walked up, and I actually walked up and I actually saw the line perfectly. I really did. I saw a spot right on the crest of the slope that it had to just brush by. I said to Teagan, do you think it's going over? He said, a touch the right, make the middle and it just brushed over the right edge. So if you look at the putt, the moment it goes over that crest and I looked up and it went over that mark, I just moved straight to the left-hand side because I knew this is going to be close. I knew the pace was good. I knew it had a chance, and to watch it drop in that spectacular fashion was really amazing.

Q. (Indiscernible)?
BRANDON STONE: Haven't got a clue. I knew it turned left to right. Wasn't inside left and it wasn't slope.

Q. Brandon, in 2012 a Scot beat you in the South African Amateur championship --
BRANDON STONE: I was wondering if that was going to come up.

Q. And Brian Soutar said you were going to be a star. Were you pleased you proved him to be right?
BRANDON STONE: Well, I think if you were to ask Brian Soutar in 2012 whether I would win the Scottish Open on a links course, he would have actually had a chuckle. We're not exactly known for our links golf capabilities back in South Africa, but I think the weather played its part for me this week, obviously using the correct side of the draw Thursday and Friday. The golf course was in spectacular condition. I mean the folks at Gullane really did something special considering the heat wave. And yeah, I just felt comfortable. I'd been saying to my coaching staff and everyone back home I feel like I can compete, not only this week but for the last few months, and it's just been a case where the game hasn't been clicking.

When we were driving from the Irish Open last week, took the ferry over and my caddy, Teagan, we just started talking about my game and just started talking about what had worked before and what hadn't worked. And he said, well, how many tournaments have you won with a blade putter? I said, well, probably around 20 amateurs and junior tournaments. He's like, well, why did you change? Came up with a terrible excuse, and then he convinced me to go into the Ping truck on Monday. Bought a Ping Dale, the new one in the bag, and the moment I started rolling it on the putting green I knew it was back to where it needed to be in order to compete in events. And I mean I probably struggled a little bit with the pace on Thursday morning. We did a lot of work Thursday afternoon trying to get the pace of the greens, getting putts going into the hole at different speeds, and I really played different. I putted spectacularly after that, and the game clicked.

Q. You mentioned the conditions of the course. Was there anything in particular that stood out about the course this week?
BRANDON STONE: It was just a true links. It was just so much fun to play. I mean links golf you have to become so creative. When we walked on to the range the start of the week, my caddy and I we had worked on the ^ Tiger old nine-box drill, hitting low straight, low left to right, low right to left, and medium cut, medium draw, medium straight. And you really gotta feel the shots that we hit this week, and there's so many good golf swings that I made over the last few days, just a real testament to that nine-box game. And when you're playing on links golf courses such as Gullane or Carnoustie next week, you have to have that creativity aspect to you. You have to be able to maneuver the ball in certain ways because of the breeze, or you gotta pitch it 25 feet short of the flag with a wedge sometimes or a nine-iron. You really it's not just throwing darts at a dart board anymore. It becomes a little bit more creative and it makes your imagination just run wild, which I really felt like it did this week for me.

Q. Will you have any type of plans at Carnoustie next week?
BRANDON STONE: We were actually planning on going to Scotland for a whiskey tour, if I'm brutally honest. Yeah, we were planning on returning our rental car, renting a little small job and driving all the way to Islay to do a few of the whiskey distilleries on that side, but instead I'll be playing Carnoustie next week.

Q. Before this week your last Top 10 on the European Tour was February 27 --
BRANDON STONE: (Indiscernible) Open.

Q. I presume you were trying to make swing changes. What prompted you to do that given the success you'd had previously?
BRANDON STONE: It's a debate I've been having with myself for a very long time. I had a coaching team around me since I was a kid. And I just felt like I needed something to help me become more consistent. I made a change. We had been working for the last 18 months -- no, not even 18 months. I think we started working at the Open a year ago, if I'm not mistaken. And we had worked and we had worked and we had worked. We work on neutralizing the ^ ball, used to having a very big draw, including the cut. And we've been putting in eight, nine-hour shifts Monday and Tuesdays for every event for the last 12 months. So the last few months it felt so close. It really has. This week changed my driver head, went to the G400 Max just for a little bit more consistency and changed putter, and it just made a world of difference. Just put myself in some incredible opportunities. And the putts for birdies obviously were very big, but the putts for pars were the momentum savers, and I made a few today and a few yesterday that really kept the momentum going, kept the good juices flowing and really just clicked. Like I said, this game is so funny at times. I mean it's not the first time that someone who's been nowhere in the season has won, and it's not going to be the last time. But this game has a way of both kicking you down and raising you up, and right now I feel on top of the world. And if you'd asked me at the French Open where I was, probably be the worst spot I'll ever be, so to sit here two weeks later getting my name on the trophy and to feel the way that I do I can't really put a value to.

Q. (Indiscernible)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Told you we should have put some cash on that.

BRANDON STONE: Yeah, I think, listen, if a few people put some cash on me, I hope they enjoy the fruits of their labor tonight. Pretty sure the gentlemen in the house have got a few rather intoxicating beverages waiting for me. I'm not exactly a heavyweight when it comes to that, so I'm not expecting to last very long tonight. But I'm really looking forward to getting up to Carnoustie next week. I think my odds might be a little bit different, hopefully, but yeah, I think it's going to be a fantastic week ahead.

Q. Two good wins. This is a different level. How does this change things for you going forward?
BRANDON STONE: Links, it's not in South Africa, it's a Rolex Series event. In all honesty, I've been playing properly pretty poor for the whole year, so for it to kick the way it did this week is obviously monumental. I felt confident. I felt like the game was coming close. One week the long game would be there and the short game wouldn't be. One week I would putt brilliantly but I was always putting for pars. To have conducted myself in the manner that I did today and the week as a whole both mentally, physically, whatever you want to attest to, I was flawless. I mean I think the first round, if I'm not mistaken, I had 34 putts to shoot level par. And I still walked off the final green feeling like I putted really well. And like I said, I struggled a little bit with pace, so we worked on that. And since then it had been utterly flawless. It was flawless golf. I mean I can't name to you -- I can't name five shots over the last three days I can testament as poor golf shots. Continuously gave myself opportunities. Teagan in my ear saying no, we're just going to play the way we play. I knew that starting today I needed something special to compete in the tournament, spoken to the people around me last night. All I want to do as a professional golfer is be in the mix on Sunday. That's all you want. That's the reason why you wake up at 6 in the morning to go and train and practice and hit a thousand putts from six feet and in. It's just a case of this week it was my turn. This week it clicked. Everything was there. The chipping was there. The putting was there. The pitching was there. The irons, the drivers, the 3-woods, you name it. I felt like I could hit any golf shot. You could have put me anywhere on the golf course and I would have pulled the shot off. So yeah, to have won a links tournament, a Rolex Series tournament, in Scotland, is spectacular.

Q. So to win on a links, what you're saying it's just something that because of the way you used to play that it gives you something special?
BRANDON STONE: Yeah. I mean I'm going to be brutally honest. I don't think I made a cut on a links golf course in my entire career. Maybe the Open last year. But growing up I always struggled to move the ball way too much in the air. Used to play quite a big draw. Couldn't really move it left to right under pressure or in some strong winds, so the work that we've done just got everything a lot more neutral. The swing and the rhythm felt spectacular today. And yeah, I think the changes that we made, although it was extremely frustrating, you know, when you make those team changes and you're not quite getting the results that you're after and you feel like you're close, but every week you're kind of being kicked down, kicked down like you feel like you're getting two steps forward and three steps back, to sit here now on a Sunday afternoon, with a trophy two feet away from me, knowing that I was the best player in Scotland this week is something I hold very dear to my heart.

Q. And you have a wedding present now of Hickory Golf Clubs. Is that correct?
BRANDON STONE: I do indeed. I don't think it's going to last until the wedding, though, if I'm brutally honest. I think I'm going to get home; I just had a southwest green put in my house and probably picked up the purist putter I've ever seen in my entire life. It's probably got about 12 degrees of loft on it, 29 inches, but it just sits so flush. So I'm going to be on that. My fiancée was under no illusions that when she bought them for me that they wouldn't be boxed and wrapped up until the wedding. But hey, what are you going to do?

Q. How did that come about? What prompted that?
BRANDON STONE: Just drove past the store, if I'm brutally honest. I mean my fiancée is always giving me a little bit of sticks in that she can't buy someone who has everything something. So when we drove past the Hickory store on Monday afternoon, I said, that would be quite cool. So she was like, perfect. So we went and popped in there yesterday afternoon, and obviously I went to college at the University of Texas, and there was just this beautiful set of burnt orange, untreated leather-gripped Hickories, and I was like, bang, go, 400 pounds later, smiling. Been chipping in the garden at the house all week. I think that might have been helping me because that wedge has got zero bounce on it, so the moment you get a little bit of bounce you feel like you can conquer the world.

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