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July 9, 2019

Brandon Stone

North Berwick, Scotland

TOM CARLISLE: Welcome back to the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open. What's it like coming back to defend the title you won in such memorable fashion last year?

BRANDON STONE: Yeah, it's a lot wetter than last year. Last year you were going through the heat wave with the drought.

It's great, got in yesterday quite late. Actually took my dad who wasn't here last here, took him to Gullane and stood on 18 green and tried to recreate the putt that we had. So it was quite cool taking a drip down memory lane. Yeah, it's nice to be back. Hopefully the weather plays its part come Thursday, but should be a good week.

TOM CARLISLE: Such a special way to win a golf tournament, with a 60 on the final day. You were the fourth player to do so in history. How much of that do you remember?

BRANDON STONE: Not a lot of it. Mainly just the shots coming down the stretch but it seems like shooting 60 and 59 and 61 is becoming more of a popular trend since then. The guys are obviously developing their games quite well. We saw Robert Rock last week shooting a phenomenal 60. It seems like that number, that magical 59 is going to become a more regular occurrence. Seems like we might be seeing one or two of those again this season.

But yeah, like I say, the prospect of coming back to Gullane, the prospect of being defending champion and just being back in North Berwick is lovely.

TOM CARLISLE: I understand you played the front nine here at the Renaissance Club. What are your impressions of the course.

BRANDON STONE: Yeah, it's definitely not boring. The greens are quite severe. A lot of tricky sloping. Should prove a true test. If the wind picks up like it might, that typical Scottish links breeze, it might be a little bit more penal, so the guys that are hitting it a bit more wayward but the course is in fantastic condition, it really is. The greens are great. They are having a lot of rain at the moment but at the same time the course is holding up quite well. It's going to be a true test and you'll have to play great golf and it's going to be a great test before next week at Royal Portrush for The Open.

Q. Did you hole the putt with your dad?
BRANDON STONE: I never even took the putter away. I couldn't handle the emotional scarring.

Q. In terms of your season so far, how would you describe it, and was last week in Ireland a sign of finding a bit of form?
BRANDON STONE: Yeah, definitely. The season has been a struggle so far this year. We've been making a few drastic changes off the course. I moved to London with my wife. We've been working very hard physically to get me into a more athletic, physical state, so I can compete in a lot more tournaments in a row. The changes we did make, we did sacrifice the first six months. We knew it would take up until now to start seeing some of that hard work pay dividends.

Last week I played some phenomenal golf. Struggled with my last nine on Sunday but other than that, I really, really did play nicely. The game feels like it's come together quite nicely. Much like it did last year. So I'm hoping to try and replicate that result.

TOM CARLISLE: Last year, your victory in Scotland, that really kick-started your season. Hoping for the same this time around obviously?

BRANDON STONE: Yeah, I think this month or so is probably the highlight of my season with regards to events. Obviously Ireland, Scotland and then The Open next week is fantastic. I've developed a strong love for links golf which I never had as a junior or amateur. It's taken me the better part of a decade to develop a manner of conducting myself and playing this true art form that is links golf. It's so different to what we are used to back in South Africa, and South Africa only has one links golf course and it's absolutely miles away from where I grew up.

The lessons that I've learnt since my first St. Andrews Links Trophy, ten years ago, up until Ireland last week, you are constantly learning. You're constantly developing your game. You just always find yourself at every event developing a shot that's going to serve you maybe next week at The Open, you don't know. It's an ever-changing evolution of the game that is a 400-year-old links tradition.

Q. Did you qualify for The Open via?
BRANDON STONE: Race to Dubai.

Q. Any experience at Portrush?
BRANDON STONE: When we played Portstewart year before last year, my caddie and I just went for a drive and drove past it. Didn't take the clubs. Had a coffee and walked around a bit. Looked phenomenal. At that moment, we had not qualified for the event, so it was one of those goals, having a walk around, the carrot dangling in front of your face to qualify for the event. It looks spectacular. I've never heard any person say one negative or slightly mediocre report from Portrush. I was chatting to Glenn Harper who worked for Henrik Stenson over there this week and they say it's been incredible. The guys have been playing on mats since December apparently. It's going to be sensational.

Q. McGinley said last week he tried to set up similar to Portrush last week.
BRANDON STONE: Last week was phenomenal. They probably weren't catering for such beautiful weather for us. We had probably half, maybe two-club winds, max. Beautiful sunshine. The amount of tank tops and short skirts running around last week was phenomenal. There were kids that were basically wearing jerseys all over the place.

I don't think we are going to be getting that this week, from what the weatherman is saying to us. But it should be a fun week nonetheless. Like you said, Mr. McGinley said the course for us last week, and it showed. Obviously Jon winning the event and Bernd doing so nicely, it shows that their games are coming into form at the right time and it's going to be tough for everyone in the field to compete, not only this week but come next week at Royal Portrush.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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