Stone and Lombard look to maintain form at Tshwane Open | SASCOC - SASCOC

Stone and Lombard look to maintain form at Tshwane Open


The performances by Brandon Stone and Zander Lombard in the European Golf Tour have proven that the coaches at the Tuks Golf Academy are definitely doing something right.
Stone, pictured above, won the BMW SA Open at Glendower in January and a week later Lombard finished second in the Jo’burg Open at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Course.
The big question is whether these Tuks Academy golfers will be able to continue their dominance in the European Tour Events played in South Africa when they tee off at Pretoria Country Club in the Tshwane Open on Thursday.
Llewellyn van Leeuwen, head coach at the Tuks Academy, is the first to admit that he was caught slightly off guard by his player’s success.
‘When Brandon won I experienced a great sense of relief. We all knew he was capable of winning a big tournament but the question was when it would happen. The naked truth is that, no matter how well you are playing, in golf there are never any guarantees. This is why I was so relieved when he won.’
Van Leeuwen and Stone have a long history together. ‘Our families were neighbours in Rustenburg and the first thing I ever did for Brandon was to babysit him.  I started coaching him when he was six and it did not take me long to realise that he had real talent.’
According to Van Leeuwen, Stone has set himself two goals for the season, one of which is to be one of the top 50 players in the world by the end of the year and the other is to qualify for the US Masters.
‘The main challenge for Brandon at the moment is to acquire ‘a sense of belonging on the international circuit’. The moment he realises that he is actually playing better golf than most of his rivals, will be when he will begin to consistently finish in the top 10 or better in major tournaments.’
Van Leeuwen ascribes the success achieved by Stone and Lombard to the fact that the coaches at the Tuks Academy work together as a team.
‘We have a team of specialist coaches at the Academy, but none of us will ever make unilateral decisions about what any player should or should not do. We will discuss everything as a team and come to an agreement before we implement changes to a player’s technique. I honestly believe that this is why Brandon and Zander are now beginning to make their presence felt on the European Tour.
‘After Zander’s second-place finish at the Jo’burg Open we had him tested and came to the conclusion that he will have to work much harder on his fitness if he does not want to get injured later in the year. At the Academy we are firm believers in being proactive rather than reactive. The tests have also shown that Zander needs to work harder on his short game.’

Picture of Stone courtesy of Reg Caldecott