South Africa’s Brandon Stone is heading for the Irish Open. Picture courtesy http://www.robbycharles.comThe early entry list for the Irish Open has been released with Team Ireland’s Simon Thornton receiving a sponsor’s invitation to join West Waterford’s Seamus Power at Carton House from June 27-30.

Welshman Rhys Davies and South African Brandon Stone, who turned professional and joined management giants IMG just last Wednesday, have also been handed places in the field at the Montgomerie Course.

Four invitations remain to be distributed with several Irish players eagerly awaiting for phone calls.

It would be a major surprise if rookie Alan Dunbar, who is managed by Andrew Chubby Chandler’s International Sports Management group, fails to get the nod.

Gareth Shaw, who is currently playing well on the Challenge Tour, can also have high hopes of a call up though it’s also likely that a marquee overseas player such as John Daly will also take one of the four remaining spots in the field.

Stone is regarded as one of the biggest talents to come out of South Africa in recent years.

According to the press release:

Stone’s amateur career has made him the talk of the golfing world and, after a year at the University of Texas where he finished the season ranked second on the collegiate rankings according to GolfWeek, he will play in his first professional event at the BMW International Open on a sponsor’s exemption. Ahead of his professional debut, Stone will also be signing deals with Ping and Titleist/Footjoy.
Stone headed to the United States on a golf scholarship last year as the top ranked amateur in South Africa and has had a freshman year to remember, winning the 2013 Big 12 Conference Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year, the Bayou City Collegiate Championship and the Big 12 Championship.

Last week, he was announced as the 2013 NCAA Freshman of the Year and a Ping First Team All-American.
Named Golf Digest Amateur of the Year in 2011, Stone has represented South Africa at junior and senior levels. He served as a member of South Africa’s 2012 Eisenhower Trophy and has amassed a staggering 18 titles over the past four years.
His first European Tour start will come in the BMW International Open in Germany later this month.

He is also good-looking!

Guy Kinnings, Global Head of IMG Golf, added, “Brandon’s outstanding amateur record has established him as one of the world’s best young golfers and he has the looks, personality and charisma to become one of the most sought after personalities in golf.”