Stone leads as SA stars align at Leopard Creek

Brandon Stone eagled the 18th to edge out Charl Schwartzel at the top of the leaderboard going into the weekend of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.

After a great drive down the challenging par-five, Stone took on the tough second shot into the island green and put his approach 15 feet from the hole, from where he made the putt for eagle to take the lead on 11 under with a 66.

He did so after a round in which he struggled with a sore back.

“I woke up with a sore back and it hurt on the range and throughout the round,” he said. “But it was a successful day. I missed a few opportunities but I also made some good putts. I feel really comfortable on every hole here.”

One shot behind him, Schwartzel signed for a 68 and England’s Chris Hanson a 65.

“Hopefully we can have a good weekend of competition against each other,” Stone said of his duel with Schwartzel.

And the former Masters champion is also feeling good about his game.

“I’ve had lots of chances and that’s what I set out to do – to give myself chances. Everything feels good.”

It’s a strong South African leaderboard going into the weekend, with George Coetzee and Keith Horne well placed on nine under, and former champion Branden Grace in a group on eight under.