Brandon Stone in position for fourth European Tour win

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Brandon Stone in position for fourth European Tour win

Euro Tour

Brandon Stone in position for fourth European Tour win

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Former Texas player Brandon Stone looks set to break out of the slump he’s been in since he won last year’s Scottish Open. The South African takes a two-shot lead into the final round of the $1.7 million Portugal Masters.

The 2013 Freshman of the Year sits on 15 under par after a third round 5-under-par 66. The 26-year-old is two shots ahead of 36 hole leader Oliver Fisher of England and fellow South African Dean Burmester.

Stone earned his third win in last year’s Scottish Open, the biggest win of his career. That victory seemed set to take Stone to another level. However, Stone has just one top 10 finish since then, a T-7 in the 2018 South African Open. He’s missed 13 of 21 cuts this season to sit 148th on the Race to Dubai.

SCORES: Portugal Masters

Stone’s Scottish Open victory means he doesn’t have to worry about finishing inside the top 117 of this year’s Race to Dubai to keep his European Tour card. His focus is on getting back into the winner’s circle.

“I think I hit 18 greens again today, which is fantastic,” Stone said. “The irons were in tip-top shape. It was really tricky. The pins were tucked and I was fortunate to hole some putts on the back nine and put together a nice score.

“I’ve been working with my coach and we’ve been doing some hard work. He’s got me swinging as good as I have and as quick and as far as I should be. I was putting too much emphasis on hitting the driver straight, when I have an ability to have a club head speed in excess of 120mph and dominate golf courses. I feel comfortable with my swing.”

Fisher’s tour status isn’t as safe as Stone’s. The Englishman is 112th on the Race to Dubai. He rallied from a bad front nine of 38, 3-over, to shoot 4-under 32 on the home nine to return a 1-under 70 to stay in contention for his second European Tour win since the 2011 Czech Open.

“I played really well at the start, I had a few wedges but didn’t hit anything close,” Fisher said. “My putter felt okay, but it got away from me a bit. I stuck with it and kept patient.”

Burmester’s tour status should be safe since he’s ranked 100th on the Race to Dubai. He’s looking for his second win following the 2017 Tshwane Open. The 30-year-old is currently sporting beard, one he claims will stay until he records his second European Tour win.

“My wife is watching at home – I’m growing this beard until I win again,” Burmester said. “I spoke to Tony Johnstone (a six-time European Tour winner) and he said he was growing his for five years – I hope mine’s a bit shorter.”

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