Pretoria professionals Brandon Stone (left) and Zander Lombard enjoying the spoils of their newfound stardom with an advanced driving experience at Zwartkop race circuit ahead of this week’s Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club. Photo: Sunshine Tour
By Michael Vlisman
The newfound superstardom of South African golf’s “Young Big 4” was nowhere more evident than when Brandon Stone, Haydn Porteous, Zander Lombard and Christiaan Bezuidenhout were treated to an advanced Audi driving experience around Zwartkop race circuit as a promotional stunt ahead of this week’s Tshwane Open.
The new young faces of the local game are indeed in the spotlight and will remain so when the final European Tour co-sanctioned event in South Africa this summer tees off at Pretoria Country Club on Thursday.
It does so with former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and defending champion George Coetzee in the field.
But it’s the achievements of Stone and Porteous in winning European Tour events in January, and Lombard and Bezuidenhout finishing second in those, that has captured the attention of their contemporaries.
Pretoria’s Dylan Frittelli is one of those, and the 25-year-old is seeking to make his own breakthrough in front of home crowds this week.
Frittelli came close to a European Tour victory when he lost the Australian PGA Championship in a playoff late last year. That performance, combined with a top 20 in the South African Open last month, has given the confidence to feel he can challenge for the title this week.
“It’s given me the world of confidence for this year. What Branden and Haydn did definitely set the stage for us younger players, and I guess I’m due now having been on tour for three years already.
“I know this golf course pretty well and I’ll want to use that to my advantage. I’m feeling good about my game. I’ve been working hard with my trainer. My body is in tip-top shape and I’m swinging it well. I just need to get the mental side taken care of and then we can get that win.”
Frittelli had two practice rounds at Pretoria Country Club last week and says the only real change he expects for the tournament is in the speed of the greens.
“The greens were pretty slow then and I think they’ll speed up a bit now. Hopefully we don’t get any more rain otherwise the rough will be super long. But it’s in good shape and I think it will be a fair test.”