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November 7, 2018

Brandon Stone

Sun City, South Africa

BRANDON STONE: Obviously a tremendous golf course. First year there hasn't been a lot of rough off the fairways, due to the lack of rain, but the golf course is in superb condition, it really is. It's far and away my favourite golf course in the country. I do feel like it should bring out the best in my game. It hasn't the last couple years, so I'm hoping to rectify this week.

Q. With the rough down, how does that change your approach?
BRANDON STONE: I wish I could say it changes it a lot but it really doesn't because I have the most respect for this golf course and Mr. Player's design, but it is fantastic. It really is a great course.

Obviously with a little bit less rough around the greens, you can get more aggressive towards the pin placements, and they have done a little renovation to the bunkers and that really has made a big difference. I think the scoring has been quite low and the greens are so good, you feel like you can hole putts from everywhere. I think overall it's going to be a fantastic event.

Q. As a South African, what does this event mean to you? You grew up watching this event.
BRANDON STONE: Definitely. I've been coming to this event since I was about five years old. My dad used to bring myself and a few other junior golfers from Centurion up here. We used to come up for the Pro-Ams like today, running around collecting signatures.

Been watching and visiting the event for close to 20 years now, it really is 'Africa's Major' and to be taking part in my third event now is obviously a massive honour to me, a privilege to me.

But the carrot dangling in front of my head of getting my name on that crystal trophy is obviously very prominent. Any time we get to play an event back on South African soil adds more to the event, and to do it here this week and maybe having a chance of having that stroke of genius and getting my name on that trophy is what we're all fighting for.

Q. There's a strong South African contingent. How cool is that?
BRANDON STONE: It's always great. I think South Africa produces so many top-quality golfers, from the likes of Louis, Charl, a few of the guys like Erik Van Rooyen and Dylan Fratelli and myself, there really is such a strong factory of producing strong, prominent South African golfers on the world stage.

To see close, I thin, it is 11 here this week is fantastic. That's 1/7th of the field. That's really a testament to Mr. Player and his way of making a path and setting a path for the journey of South African golf; and the last few years, that's been carried on by the likes of Ernie and Retief, and now being done by Gracey, Charl and Louis, and you get players like I mentioned, myself, Erik Van Rooyen and Dylan Fratelli and others striving towards that. It's going to be a very tough and grueling week.

Q. We've got the SA Open and then Leopard Creek in the calendar here. How much are you looking forward to those and how cool is it to have Leopard Creek back on the calendar?
BRANDON STONE: I think any time you get to visit Leopard Creek is fantastic. Obviously I'm the defending champion, still two years later, but I'll just lay claim to that.

I've spoken to Mr. Rupert about the renovations they made and it does sound like it is in phenomenal condition. I've spoken to a few people who have played it since they made the changes and they all say it's incredible. Looking forward to getting back out there and getting into the bush again will be really cool. I thoroughly love it out there.

The week before, the SA Open hosted by the City of Johannesburg is going to be incredible, too. I haven't played a tournament at Randpark there. I need to get in and do some preparation and do some homework. Any time you get to take part in a South African Open, it's going to be cool.

Q. And you know what it's like to defend your trophy and what it means.
BRANDON STONE: I do indeed. My replica trophy arrived at my house a couple weeks ago that I bought to keep in the house. So now when we have a few too many to drink in the house, a few guys will be standing and posing with the trophy, claiming they won in their illustrious golfing careers. It's definitely a lot of pride and passion associated with the trophy, and to have the opportunity to get my name on it again would be really, really cool.

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