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Kruyswijk, De Jager share Limpopo Championship lead

31st January 2020

Kruyswijk, De Jager share Limpopo Championship lead

It’s an all-South African affair at the top of the leaderboard of the Limpopo Championship with Jacques Kruyswijk and Louis de Jager signing for a 64 each to total 13-under-par after the second round to co-lead by two shots going into the third round at Euphoria Golf and Lifestyle Estate.

Kruyswijk began his round beautifully, birdieing the first two holes. Two pars later, he made two more birdies to turn in 32 and bogey-free. After making four straight pars from the seventh through to the 10th hole, Kruyswijk made his only bogey of the day, dropping a shot on the par-four 11th.

That drop was his last because after that he steadied himself nicely, making back-to-back birdies on the 13th and 14th holes. He made further gains one hole later, picking up a birdie on the par-three 16th before closing with an eagle to seal top spot ahead of the weekend.

“It was just a great day,” Kruyswijk said, “so many great feelings around this golf course. This is where I grew up. This is where it all started for me. The putter worked well but I gave myself a lot of chances. Same game plan tomorrow. I’ll go out there and play some aggressive golf because that how I play. I know Euphoria quite well so I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m where I need to be, I’m leading and that is where I want to be at.”

De Jager had a similar start to his round, making birdies on the first two holes. He had to stay patient before making further gains because his next birdie came on the sixth hole. That was followed by two more on the eighth and ninth holes. After the turn, he picked up another birdie on the 11th and three pars later, another birdie found its way to his card. Pars on the 16th and 17th holes were followed by another birdie on the last hole as he went around Koro Creek without dropping a single shot.

“It was quite tough out here,” said De Jager after his round, “the wind was gusty and blowing in all kinds of directions but I putted well, so I’m really pleased going into the weekend. I’m in a perfect position for the weekend. Euphoria is a strong golf course, you’ve got to hit it well off the tee and you have to hit it straight, but I enjoy the golf course.”

Sitting third and despite dropping a shot on his first hole of the day, rookie Wilco Nienaber showed great resilience to sign for a 68 which took his total for the week to 11-under-par. A shot behind him lies Hennie du Plessis who has been in great form since recovering from a back injury a few months back. He signed for a 69 to total 10-under and coming hot behind him is the defending champion, JC Ritchie, along with overnight leader, Daniel van Tonder. They’re both nine-under-par and four shots behind the leaders.

The final two rounds of the Limpopo Championship will be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube from 13H00 on Saturday and Sunday.

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Van Tonder goes low to take Limpopo Championship lead

30th January 2020

Van Tonder goes low to take Limpopo Championship lead

Daniel van Tonder says every aspect of his game was solid on day one of the Limpopo Championship, and that was evident on Thursday because he blitzed around the Koro Creek Bushveld and Golf Estate expertly, to sign for a bogey-free nine-under-par 63.

“I enjoyed it quite a lot,” he says of his round, “I played well and I listened to my caddie. We gelled and it worked today. I was pleased about every aspect of my game today; driver off the tee, second shots with the irons or a wood.  And, even on the par-threes, it’s irons off the tees and I was chipping and putting well, so everything was quite solid.”

He opened his round with an eagle and made two more birdies on the fifth and sixth holes to turn in 32. Back-to-back pars on the 1nth and 11th were soon followed by another birdie and one hole later, on the 15th and 16t holes, Van Tonder picked up two more birdies. He made further gains on his last two holes, closing off with two birdies to sign for a 63.

He says he’s done some work on a few aspects of his game over the last few months, and the results are beginning to show. “Putting is the name of the game,” he says.

“If you putt well, you play well and that’s what I’ve worked on.”

Rookie Wilco Nienaber, Peter Karmis, Hennie du Plessis and MJ Viljoen are in a share of second on seven-under-par and trailing by two shots after the opening round.

“I played nicely and because the front nine was so calm, I tried to take advantage of that,” said Nienaber, “and on the back nine, the wind started blowing a bit, but not much, not more than a club. I made a few adjustments with my putter, and it’s starting to pay off nicely. I enjoyed the course.

“This is my second Sunshine Tour-only event,” he notes, “the first one (Eye of Africa PGA Championship) I forgot to sign my scorecard and that got me disqualified. I’m enjoying it here and it’s nice to play on home soil.”

Defending champion JC Ritchie, Anton Haig, the German duo of Jonas Kolbing and Bernd Ritthammer, England’s Todd Clements and Philip Eriksson of Sweden share the sixth position on six-under-par.

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Schietekat eyes more Limpopo success

29th January 2020

Schietekat eyes more Limpopo success

The Limpopo Championship co-sanctioned with the European Challenge Tour returns to Euphoria Golf and Lifestyle Estate while also making its debut at Koro Creek Bushveld Golf Estate, and Sunshine Tour player Neil Schietekat says he can’t wait to get going when the tournament tees off on Thursday.

“I’ve played well here (Euphoria) and last year I think I was there and about, finished top 10, I think,” said Schietekat on Tuesday. “I like it here. I’ve done well here in the Vodacom Origins events and I’ve always played half-decently around here so I’m excited for the week.”

He came in in a share of ninth in the inaugural tournament here and he knows what aspects of one’s game should be on song in order to score well around the Euphoria layout.

“Here, you’ve got to drive it very well,” he says, “and because it’s a long golf course, you don’t really have many opportunities for birdie, so when you do get a birdie opportunity, you make those putts or you will be punished. I presume that’s what I’ve done in the past couple of years. My putter has been a bit quiet over the last couple of weeks and I’m excited to get it warmed up this week.”

The second edition of the Limpopo Championship is among the three Sunshine Tour events which are now set to be co-sanctioned with the Challenge Tour and Limpopo Tourism Chief Executive Officer, Sonto Ndlovu, is just as excited as the players are for this tournament.

“It’s bigger and better,” she says. “and the partnership with the Challenge Tour is massive. Most of these players have never been to Limpopo and this is their opportunity to enjoy what we have to offer.  So, we are excited to have such a big field this year and we know that they will all enjoy our province.”

Making this event even bigger, the final two rounds will be streamed live on the Sunshine Tour Facebook page.

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27th January 2020

Limpopo Championship: What’s What

The Limpopo Championship made its debut on the Sunshine Tour schedule last year and it boasted a R1.5-million prize fund. The organisers promised to make the second edition bigger and better and that they have achieved.

In its second edition, the Limpopo Championship is co-sanctioned with the European Challenge Tour and boasts a R3.5-million prize fund. The much-bigger tournament will be played from 30 January to 02 February 2020, at Euphoria and Lifestyle Estate and Koro Creek in Modimolle, Limpopo.

The format:

72 holes of Stroke Play. All competitors will play one round each on the Euphoria and Koro Creek Course during round one and two. After 36 holes there will be a cut to the leading 60 professionals and those who tie on that score.

Rounds three and four will be played on the Euphoria course.

The field:

204 professionals.

Defending champion:

JC Ritchie is the defending champion. He is defending this week.

The course:

Euphoria Golf & Lifestyle Estate is set in the beautiful Waterberg mountain range.

The 18-hole championship golf course is the first in Africa to be designed by Swedish great Annika Sorenstam and provides an exclusive experience. The Estate is also distinguished by a cableway which links the clubhouse to the mountain Estate and Ntshonalanga Restaurant, perfect for watching the sunset while enjoying breath-taking views.

It is home to numerous game reserves, the area is rich in cultural, historical, natural and geological attractions. The 760-hectare nature reserve is home to a wide variety of indigenous fauna and flora. The estate is a stone’s throw from Nylsvley. Though not as large as the Okavango, it is the largest natural floodplain in South Africa and is famous for its exceptional birdlife.

The course is situated two hours away from Johannesburg and one-and-a-half hours from Pretoria.


Koro Creek Bushveld Golf Estate is a par-72 championship golf course, measuring 6825m and a true challenge with the fairways narrowing as you enter onto the green.

The course was designed by the DDV-Design Group with construction and maintenance done by Wonder Gardens who was also involved in the development of Leopard Creek and The Links at Fancourt. A portion of the golf course extends into the Nylsvley Nature Reserve, offering the golfers the relaxing experience of golf combined with nature.

Form Player:

The only time JC Ritchie has missed the cut this season was back in September last year in the King’s Cup in eSwatini. He’d already won the Zanaco Masters five months prior in Lusaka. Like last year coming into this tournament, Ritchie is beaming confidence as he and his friend and playing partner Jaco Prinsloo, successfully defended their Gauteng Team Championship titles over the weekend.

He was already firing on all cylinders going into last week’s event, having come seventh at the Eye of Africa PGA Championship and sixth at the SA Open hosted by the City of Joburg.

Now, headed to a familiar hunting ground and on which he has tasted success in recent times, and at the back of a successful defence, Ritchie has no reason to feel like he can’t defend his Limpopo triumph, even as the field is much bigger and the quality much improved, with the Challenge Tour joining in.

He has won three of his four order of merit titles between the months of March and April, a signal that he can be quick off the mark in the way of victories, and will want to continue with that trend. The stage is bigger and the rewards even bigger this year, however, that’s not something Ritchie isn’t used to – shown by his SA Open performance just the other day – so a successful title-defence is very possible this week.

Sentimental pick:

Jaco Ahlers has won in Euphoria before and is in a scintillating form which recently earned him a spot at the 149th The Open later in the year. Leading the order of merit standings on account of the number of events he’s played this season – one must play a minimum of six events to be eligible to win the order of merit prize – and boasting two victories and six top 10 finishes, he knows he is in with a shout this week.

The bolter:

Stephen Ferreira has had his fair share of struggles this season, especially in the last few months. He last made the cut in October last year in the Sibaya Challenge, a reality he has worked hard to turn around. Despite those struggles, however, Ferreira remains a strong competitor and has shown glimpses of outright brilliance, as shown by his KCB Karen Masters performance, where he narrowly lost out to Toto Thimba Jnr in the end.

He is very capable of stringing together low rounds and on a day when his putter is obedient, a very low career-defining score is very possible, such as the 62 he signed for in the opening round of that showdown in Nairobi in July last year.

He has no issues confidence-wise and a solid ball-striker, Ferreira will want to combine these attributes and a few more to mount a challenge for only his maiden Sunshine Tour title. What better championship to claim your maiden title in than the Limpopo Championship?

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Auto Draft 107

25th January 2020

Prinsloo, Ritchie claim second successive Team Champs title

JC Ritchie and Jaco Prinsloo made history on Saturday when they claimed the 2020 Gauteng Team Championship hosted by Dainfern, becoming the first team to defend this title since its inception in 2018.

They signed for a tournament total of 25-under-par 191 to claim a two-stroke victory over the team Jaco Ahlers and Vaughn Groenewald after rounds of 61, 68 and 62. Ritchie and Prinsloo came into the final round leading by a single stroke at 15-under-par. A bogey on the first hole marked a shaky start for the defending champions but what followed next was nothing short of spectacular.

“We are very chuffed to have defended this title,” said Ritchie, “I think we were expecting a little bit of a charge from the guys who were coming behind us. But we played brilliantly together as a team after a tough struggle at the start. But we are happy we managed to turn on the fireworks and bring it home.”

The bogey they made on the first hole was quickly forgotten as they made birdie on the next hole. Two pars later something clicked. Five consecutive birdies followed as they turned in 31 but that was not the end of it. A birdie on the 10th was quickly followed by an eagle on the 12th hole. Then birdies on the 17th and the 18th holes sealed the victory for Prinsloo and Ritchie.

“After a good stretch of holes bringing back a bad start, that eagle really settled us down, giving us a nice cushion to play the last six holes with,” continued Ritchie.

Prinsloo was equally ecstatic to become only the first team to successfully defend this title.

“The conditions today were similar to yesterday’s because we started with the umbrellas out because it was raining,” remarked Prinsloo, “it was tough but I just took a back seat and watched JC play the golf course the way it should be played. We are really happy with this win.”

The first round of this exciting tournament was a betterball format, the second round was foursomes while the final round was also a betterball.

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Prinsloo, Ritchie in slender lead at Dainfern 2

24th January 2020

Prinsloo, Ritchie in slender lead at Dainfern

Defending champions of the Gauteng Team Championship, JC Ritchie and Jaco Prinsloo carded a second-round four-under 68 to take a one-stroke lead into the final round on a total of 15-under for the week.

After a slow start to their round, opening with a bogey and then making four straight pars, Ritchie and Prinsloo got going, birdieing the sixth and seventh holes to turn in 35. Another bogey on the 10th threatened to derail their round but they found joy again when they made birdies on the 12th and 14th holes. Two pars later and in the last two holes, they made further gains, finishing with two birdies.

“We are happy with that 68 today,” said Ritchie, “because we struggled there at the start, bogeying the first hole and not birdieing the second. And, the rain didn’t make it easy either. It was tough to hold on to the club, tough to keep the ball in play. But we are happy to be leading at this stage.”

While they refuse to entertain the idea of a possible title-defence just yet – and with the final round being a betterball format – both players are relishing the possibility of a win early on in the year.

“Neither JC nor myself mentioned anything about defending the title,” said Prinsloo. “It would be nice to defend but we don’t want to put any pressure on ourselves. We are just here to win a golf tournament.”

Right below them on 14-under-par and in a share of the second spot, the teams of Jake Roos and Christiaan Basson, Jaco Ahlers and Vaughn Groenewald, and overnight leaders Heinrich Bruiners and Andre Nel, lurk dangerously.

Ahlers and Groenewald also signed for a 68, Roos and Basson carded a 69 which had an eagle, three birdies and two bogeys, while Bruiners and Nel struggled a bit, and ultimately signing for a one-under.

Darren Fichardt and Jaco van Zyl are two shots off the pace on 13-under and with the final round being a betterball format, they have an opportunity to claim a victory here too. At 12-under-par and in a share of sixth are the teams of Lyle Rowe and Steve Surry as well as David McIntyre and Kyle Barker.

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A 59 for Nel and Bruiners to get going at Gauteng Team Champs 2

23rd January 2020

A 59 for Nel and Bruiners to get going at Gauteng Team Champs

Heinrich Bruiners celebrated like he’d won the tournament already on day one of the Gauteng Team Championship, and he had every reason to, because he and his teammate, Andre Nel blitzed around the Dainfern Golf and Residential Estate in spectacular fashion, carding a bogey-free 13-under 59 to lead by two shots on Thursday.

“I don’t think I celebrated like that when I won my first event,” said the member of the Gary Player Class, Bruiners. “I was so happy I could almost kiss Andre there.”

Teeing off the 10th tee, Bruiners and Nel began working right away, making four consecutive birdies. A par on the 14th, their fifth hole of the day, was followed by another birdie before another pair of pars slowed them down a bit. The found joy again before they turned, making a birdie on the ninth to turn in 30.

Coming home, they didn’t relent and after the par they picked up on their 10th hole, the first hole of the golf course, they made an eagle on the par-five second and a birdie on the next hole. Two pars later, two more birdies and another eagle went onto their scorecard as they went around the back nine in 29 for a total score of 13-under 59.

“It was crazy,” said Bruiners of the eagles they made on the day. “We were hitting the ball well and, on the holes where we had chances for eagles, we were both quite close. He made one first and then I made mine too. We played like a proper team and we had fun.”

Added Nel: “It was so fun playing with Heinie. When I was in trouble, he had my back and I did the same when he was in trouble. It was so much fun.”

Defending champions, Jaco Prinsloo and JC Ritchie share the second spot with the team of Jake Roos and Christiaan Basson on 11-under-par.

The first round of this tournament is a betterball format while the second round will be foursomes.

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Gauteng Team Championship: What’s what 1

22nd January 2020

Gauteng Team Championship: What’s what

The Gauteng Team Championship returns to Dainfern Golf and Residential Estate for its third playing after it made its debut two years ago. The inaugural tournament was played at Steyn City and then it moved to its current home, Dainfern, the following year. It takes place from Thursday 23 January to Saturday 25 January.


54 holes of betterball and foursomes as follows:

Thursday 23 January: 18 holes betterball

Friday 24 January: 18 holes foursomes

Saturday 25 January: The format of play is betterball and there will be a cut after 36 holes. 24 teams will make the cut. If more than 24 teams tie on the cut number, a count-out will be done to determine the qualifying teams, but all teams on the cut number will be paid.

The field

96 professionals making up 48 teams.

Defending champions

JC Ritchie and Jaco Prinsloo – 27-under-par 189

The course

The Dainfern Country Club in Johannesburg was founded in 1991 and is an 18-hole golf course with a par of 72.

Gary Player designed the golf course and planted the fairways with Kikuyu and the greens with bentgrass.

Form player

Darren Fichardt comes into this event after a hard-fought playoff victory at the Eye of Africa PGA Championship against Matias Calderon after both players finished on 20-under par in regulation. While he missed the cut at the SA Open hosted by the City of Joburg a week prior, Fichardt’s resilience at Eye of Africa last week not only showed him as a player that can win but also as one with big-match temperament.

He has teamed up with Jaco van Zyl this week, a veteran in his own right and a player whose form is also on the rise. Van Zyl came 28th at the SA Open and backed that result up with a 12th place finish last week in Eikenhof. An experienced pair seeking glory as a team, Fichardt and Van Zyl will be the team to look out for if their current form is anything to go by.


Sentimental pick

Thriston Lawrence and Daniel van Tonder finished fourth and fifth, respectively, last week and because both players, individually, have looked threatening in recent times. Lawrence’s SA Open showing was impressive, carding scores of 67, 65, 70 but he was let down by a final-round 75 to finish in a share of 36th. Van Tonder missed the cut at the national open but due to his solid performances throughout the season, he finds himself battling it out for the Order of Merit with Jaco Ahlers. To put his season in context, Van Tonder has played 16 events and has missed the cut only three times, highlighting the great form he’s been enjoying up to this event.

Both known to hit the ball a long way, and with Lawrence making birdies for fun this season – he has the most birdies this season, making 278 up to this point – this team might be a surprise pairing for some, but it might just prove to be a perfect match-up.


Chris Cannon might have missed the cut in the last two events and failed to qualify for the two events which preceded those, but he has played consistent golf in the last two seasons and will fell that he is due a win soon. Already boasting three top 10s this season, Cannon comes to Dainfern with a solid enough partner in Philip Geerts.

The Italian has two top 10 finishes this season, obtained at King’s Cup and Vodacom Origins of Golf in Sishen. His season has been stable, having missed the cut nine times in 17 starts. The fifth-place finish he got at King’s Cup is his highest finish this season and that he has the ability to shoot a low one at times is a plus in a team situation.

Whether they will gel together as a team is yet to be determined but what is certain is that both Cannon and Geerts are strong competitors and both will feel a win is due to them. Could it be this week as a team?

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Oosthuizen eyes up spot in world’s top 10

Oosthuizen eyes up spot in world’s top 10

Louis Oosthuizen is continuing a march back towards a spot in the world’s top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking after his fifth-place finish in last week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

His runner-up finish in the South African Open Championship the week before started a rise from his year-opening position of 20th to his current 14th spot. He jumped four places with his performance in the European Tour’s first Rolex Series tournament of the 2020 season, an achievement aided by the presence of world number one Brooks Koepka, amongst others, which boosted the number of points awarded.

He was one of four players inside the world’s top 20 who climbed in the rankings: Tiger Woods rose from seventh to sixth without lifting a club, while Justin Rose (ninth to eighth) and Matt Kuchar (24th to 20th) parlayed their runner-up and titleist finishes respectively in the SMBC Singapore Open into improvements on the rankings.

Erik van Rooyen remains the only other South African inside the top 50, with his share pf 12th in Abu Dhabi pushing him up to 46th from 48th as he cemented his place this year amongst the world’s elite golfers.

Significantly, Shaun Norris made a big push towards receiving a coveted invitation to the Masters as he turned an opening round of 64 and a closing round of 65 in Abu Dhabi into a share of sixth. His world ranking this week climbed to 54th, and, another good performance on the European Tour this week in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic could see him on the verge of a debut trip up Magnolia Lane.

Branden Grace also continued his climb back up the rankings, with his share of 17th in Abu Dhabi pushing him up to 70th after he started the year in 127th.

The big South African climber of the week was Darren Fichardt, newly-crowned champion of the Eye of Africa PGA Championship after his play-off victory over Jacques Kruyswijk. The veteran Fichardt, who endured a tough year on the European Tour in 2019, rose from 409th in the rankings to 254th.

That is still only good enough to make him the 17th-best South African of the 20 local players who appear inside the world’s top 300.

Justin Harding (81st) and Christiaan Bezuidenhout join Oosthuizen, Van Rooyen, Norris and Grace to make up the six South Africans inside the world’s top 100. Dylan Frittelli could use a good performance in this week’s Farmers Insurance Open on the PGA Tour to lift him inside that mark again from his current 107th spot.


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Ahlers, Van Tonder in race to Sid Brews Trophy

20th January 2020

Ahlers, Van Tonder in race to Sid Brews Trophy

With five events left in the Sunshine Tour’s 2019-20 season, the race for the Sid Brews Trophy for the winner of the Order of Merit is starting to look increasingly like a straight fight between Jaco Ahlers and Daniel van Tonder.

Van Tonder has been in this position before, surrendering the 2014 title to Thomas Aiken in the last tournament of that season, the South African Open Championship. Ahlers’ best finish came in the 2017-18 season when he finished in ninth spot, with Van Tonder just behind him in 12th.

With this week’s Gauteng Team championship hosted by Dainfern not contributing massively for the Order of Merit, and three of the top five on the list not likely to fulfil their obligations to qualify for ranking – Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel – the Limpopo Championship, the Cape Town Open and the Dimension Data Pro-Am become important ahead of the Tour Championship on February 20.

Ahlers has the lead at this stage – R1,745,470 to R1,697,080 – and, with the 2018 Dimension Data Pro-Am title as part of his experience, he should probably feel he has the inside track in the final straight of the title chase.

Additionally, he has two titles to his credit this season as compared to the season-opener of the Mopani Redpath Zambia Open which Van Tonder took back at the end of last March. Ahlers’ titles came in the King’s Cup in Swaziland in September, and the Vodacom Origins of Golf event at Selborne a month later.

Van Tonder will look to the experience of his second Sunshine Tour victory – the Vodacom Origins of Golf event at Euphoria in 2014 – to bolster his chances in the Limpopo Championship which takes place on the same course.

Both the Limpopo Championship and the Cape Town Open – where Ahlers is a former champion – have prize-funds of R3.5-million, which makes them equally important in the quest for top spot. The Dimension Data Pro-Am has R6.3-million up for grabs (some of it, of course for the pro-am section of the tournament), which gives it great significance to both players.

The season-ending Tour Championship has R1.5-million in prize money, and the battle could come down to which of the two does better in that.

Of course, there are players other than Ahlers and Van Tonder in the hunt too. Thriston Lawrence and JC Ritchie, in particular, are within striking distance, and a winning performance from either of them in any of the tournaments will greatly enhance their chances – especially if the leaders somehow contrive to perform poorly.