By Gaby Moran
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Although he has been at the top of several different rankings and won numerous tournaments and awards over the past few years, Brandon Stone only cares about the game of golf and not any of the glam that comes with it.
“I am not really the kind of guy that gets caught up in that kind of stuff. I am more worried about what we are eating for dinner than (titles). I really don’t get fussed with awards and all that,” Stone said.
Stone grew up in Pretoria, South Africa and started golf at a very young age. As he came into his teen years, Stone proved that he was well qualified to become a professional after medaling at a several major tournaments and being ranked first among all amateur players last year. However, his father had other dreams for him before Stone started his professional career.
“It is not really well known back home to come to school in the United States, but my dad was always adamant that I had to come,” Stone said.
The next step in his life was choosing where to go. Stone decided early on he wanted to go to a university that had a previous South African on the team, which left him with four choices: University of San Diego, TCU and The University of Texas at Austin.
“South Africa, we have some fantastic golfers and there is no doubt about that, but what the U.S. has is a greater depth in great players,” Stone said. “When you play poorly in a tournament, you wouldn’t finish like I did in South Africa in the top 10 but you finish 35th or 40th. From a competitive point of view, it is definitely a lot better here.”
Dylan Frittelli, who was a senior on the 2012 National Championship team, is also from Pretoria, South Africa. Stone and Frittelli are good friends who shared the same coach and were members are the same golf clubs.
“We grew up together. I know him very well and he knows me very well and we still chat every now and then. We have a pretty good and strong relationship,” Stone said.
Stone had scheduled to visit all three schools. After his visit San Diego, his next stop was Austin, which Stone knew right away that this was the best place for him.
“I knew I was not going to find anything better than this,” Stone said. “It is a fantastic place with great people, and it is very homey to me -- very similar to home which is quite nice.”
With his decision in place, Stone took the 19-hour flight in August and got ready for his first semester at Texas.
“Coach (John) Fields and (Ryan) Murphy are fantastic. They had really done a fantastic job making me feel comfortable and getting settled here,” Stone said. “They made sure I had everything I needed and that I had rides to the golf course and getting to know the guys. They have this amazing ability of making a person feel welcomed very soon.”
From day one, Stone wrote out both golf and personal goals he wanted to accomplish his first year. Some of the golf goals were to win one collegiate tournament, have a subpar stroke average and climb into the Top 20 rankings in GolfWeek.
“I went far and beyond what all of my goals were so I am really, really happy and really impressed with myself. I am just living in the moment right now and it is fantastic,” Stone said.
Stone won three tournaments, including medalist honors at the Big 12 Championship, averages 70.87 after 30 rounds, has competed in all 10 tournaments Texas has played in, and is currently ranked second in the GolfWeek rankings.
“He’s moving in on a lot of postseason honors, and you can’t get too focused on those, you still have to go out and play the best golf you can,” Fields said.
With the loss of Jordan Spieth and Frittelli from last year’s team, Stone has been a key asset in helping Texas stay on top since last year’s National Championship title. Texas has won its last three tournaments, including the first Big 12 Tournament win since 2004, allowing the Longhorns to move up in rankings to third in the nation.
“I knew coming this year we were obviously going to have that target on our backs being the National Champions, and with Jordan and Dylan leaving, it was going to be quite challenging,” Stone said. “But the team has done so well and we still have a chance to do it. We are so motivated to prove those who are doubting us wrong.”
Stone and Texas continue on to the NCAA South Central Regional Championship in Fayetteville, Ark. where they will compete against 13 other teams for advancement to the NCAA Championship in Atlanta.
“We haven’t played our best golf yet because we all feel that we can do better even after winning the last three tournaments. It is a huge motivational factor for us knowing that we have the capability to win even if we aren’t playing at our best,” Stone said.