South African sensation Brandon Stone, who finished T2 in the 2013 NCAA Division 1 men’s championship before turning pro, has signed an agreement to play PING equipment, PING Chairman & CEO John A. Solheim announced yesterday..
Stone, 20, will play his first event as a professional at the European Tour’s BMW International Open in Germany on June 20th. He turned pro after a distinguished freshman season at the University of Texas. He was the 2013 Big 12 Conference Player and Newcomer of the Year, the NCAA Freshman of the Year, the Big 12 Conference individual champion, and a PING First Team All American. He was the #2 collegiate men’s golfer, as ranked by Golfweek magazine. In the past four years in his native country and the U.S., he has amassed 18 victories.
“Brandon is a wonderful example of a young man coming up through PING’s amateur program, which reaches into every corner of the world to identify and develop talent,” Solheim said. “Our South African distributor, Doug Vilas, has had a connection with the Stone family for many years, so there’s a comfort level with Brandon that we feel contributes to his success. He has incredible skills but on top of that he has a great work ethic, and his determination makes him very tough to beat. Yet with all of his early success, he has a good head on his shoulders. He’s well-grounded. We look forward to continuing our relationship and giving him what he needs to achieve his goals.”
Stone, a 5’11” native of Pretoria, South Africa said PING is the only brand of clubs he’s ever played, so to be an official staff player feels like a natural step. “Becoming a pro golfer is something I’ve dreamed of since I was a young boy, but to be honest I know the next year is going to bring a lot of change for me,” he said. “So the more stability I can have, the better off I’ll be. PING has supported me for years and I know they’ll help make the transition as smooth as possible. I’m excited to compete with the best players in the world and to be an official member of the PING family.”
As part of a multi-year agreement, Stone will wear a PING hat, carry a PING staff bag and play a minimum of 11 PING clubs, including a PING driver and PING putter. Financial terms and the length of the agreement were not disclosed.
Also announced yesterday was the news that Brandon Stone has appointed IMG, the global sports, fashion and media company, for exclusive worldwide management and marketing representation.
Explaining his decision to sign with IMG, the industry leader which also manages his fellow countrymen Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Branden Grace, Trevor Immelman and Richard Sterne, Stone said: “I spoke to a lot of management companies but IMG, with all of their offices around the world and many decades of experience, make them the perfect fit for me. Initially, I will need invitations to play and IMG has the global influence to ensure I get the opportunities to compete in the right tournaments to give myself the best possible chance to win cards in Europe and the US.”
Brandon will be managed by Duncan Reid out of the London office with assistance from Katie Gordine and Jacques Retief from IMG South Africa.
Reid, who also manages Ernie Els and Branden Grace, commented, “We are delighted to welcome Brandon to IMG and believe he has a very bright future ahead of him. His achievements over the past couple of years have been remarkable and along with his fantastic golfing ability he is an extremely charismatic young man who will be very appealing to sponsors.”
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.”