Stone looking rock-solid as winning post looms large at Leopard Creek
Storm warning forces early start
Alfred Dunhill Championship
Story so far
Final-round punters need to be quick off the mark for the Alfred Dunhill Championship from South Africa – a storm threat means the Sunday action has been scheduled to start earlier in the hope of avoiding weather problems.
The final threeball of Brandon Stone, Keith Horne and Chris Hanson is due on the first tee at Leopard Creek at 9.02am local time (7.02am UK and Ireland). Stone has charged three shots clear at the top of the leaderboard, looking to secure a second European Tour triumph.
Stone, a 28-1 chance ante-post, was suffering with back problems during round two, but the brilliant youngster was swinging beautifully in round three on his way to a 17-under-par 54-hole total. The reigning South African Open champion has bravely put some daylight between himself and the chasing pack.
Ante-post 7-2 favourite Charl Schwartzel is sharing second place, alongside Horne and Hanson, in what appears to have become a five-runner contest. Branden Grace, 7-1 second-favourite at the outset, is eight shots off the pace.
-17 Brandon Stone
-14 Charl Schwartzel, Chris Hanson, Keith Horne
-12 Benjamin Hebert
20-21 B Stone, 2 C Schwartzel, 14 K Horne, 16 C Hanson, 28 B Hebert, 66 B Grace, 80 bar.
Brandon Stone took command of the Alfred Dunhill Championship with an assured performance alongside four-time Leopard Creek victor Charl Schwartzel on Saturday.
It was a classic twoball featuring the undisputed king of Leopard Creek against South Africa's most promising youngster, and the star of the new generation rose to the occasion in hugely impressive fashion. A tap-in birdie at the opening hole for Stone was followed by five more birdies through the first 11 holes as Schwartzel was left behind.
Schwartzel rallied on the back-nine, but a missed birdie putt on the final hole meant he had been dumped into the penultimate threeball for Sunday.
The injury worries which concerned Stone-backers on Friday – his movement was seriously restricted around the turn – disappeared on Saturday as this powerhouse flourished through the ball. Confidence has to be high in both player and his supporters that a first Dunhill crown is coming.
Stone won the SA Open in fine style in January, so is a proven European Tour champion, and he also has the 2015 Cape Town Open title on his list of professional victories.
Schwartzel must obviously be considered the great danger – his Leopard Creek record is ridiculously good – but this time he is up against a cocksure young opponent who seems unlikely to buckle. It is far too early to call this a changing of the guard in South African golf, but Stone appears to have a glorious future ahead.
Keith Horne is an unconvincing 45-year-old journeyman who has never won on the European Tour, while 31-year-old Englishman Chris Hanson is world number 376 and without a victory on any significant tour. Both should be outclassed by Stone and Schwartzel in round four, and the rest of the field are probably too far back.
Racing Post Sport followers do not need any further outright bets, with 28-1 each-way headline selection Stone in charge, as well as an extra dual-forecast investment on Stone and Schwartzel at 50-1. Perhaps a wager on a Schwartzel victory at 2-1 may appeal to cautious punters looking to consolidate their position, but Stone has been imperious over the last three days.
Former Leopard Creek champion Richard Sterne is up against weak opposition in the 6.40am threeball – Bryce Easton and Pablo Larrazabal – and is an attractive 6-5 chance.
2pts 6-5 Coral