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Follett-Smith ready to shrug off season’s struggles in Cape Town 1

4th February 2020

Follett-Smith ready to shrug off season’s struggles in Cape Town

Defending champion of the RAM Cape Town Open, Benjamin Follett-Smith of Zimbabwe says while he aims to defend his title this week in Cape Town, he has few expectations this year following a rather difficult spell on Tour since his win here.

He has made the cut five times in 19 starts this season and admits he’s struggled while also pointing out what the courses for such struggles may have been.

“Very few expectations this week,” he says ahead of this year’s edition which is co-sanctioned with the Challenge Tour. “I’ve learnt my lesson last year. I struggled this year because my expectations got too high. Now, I’m just trying to maintain composure; hit fairways, hit greens and just make sure I do the basics right. If you get the basics right, you should be able to give yourself chances.”

He admits, however, that all is not lost for him because regardless of the undesirable results he’s gotten this season so far, he is still learning about the game and about himself as well.

“It’s a learning curve,” he notes, “because this year, I’ve missed more cuts that I have done in my whole career. It’s just learning how to get back up bigger and stronger. I’ve taken five steps back but I’m trying to take them forward now.”

A fierce competitor of his calibre is not to be distracted by a series of unwanted results, however, and in all his struggles, Follett-Smith has had some positives to draw on and the eighth-place finish he and his compatriot Stephen Ferreira got in the team championship a fortnight ago, is one such positive.

“At team champs, I hit the ball really well,” he says, “and it was easier because I had Stephen backing me up. But I did hit it well and that showed me that when I am confident, I can pull through. Obviously, with a few mishaps and not playing well, the confidence will go down but coming to a place where I have succeeded, seeing the positives, seeing what I did and what I can do, is helping the confidence. So, I feel good and I feel like I can compete again.”

No matter his current form and the struggles with which he has had to deal with on the golf course, Follett-Smith is ready for everything this great championship has to throw at him.

“I hope the wind picks up,” he says with a smile, “I really like it here when it gets windy. It just makes things a little bit more interesting.”

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RAM Cape Town Open: What’s what

RAM Cape Town Open: What’s what

The Sunshine Tour is in the Mother City this week for the eighth edition of the RAM Cape Town Open. This year’s event is for the first time co-sanctioned with the Challenge Tour, making it bigger and better while marking the first co-sanctioned event to hit the Cape.

The format:

The competition will be decided over 72 holes of stroke-play. The first two rounds will be played at both courses of Royal Cape and King David Mowbray Golf Clubs, with each competitor playing a round at each course. After 36 holes there will be a cut to the leading 60 professionals and those who tie on the score.

The final two rounds will be played at Royal Cape Golf Club. In the event that the cut qualifies more than 78 players, there will be an additional cut after 54 holes to the leading 72 professionals and those who tie on the score. The final decision regarding the number of players for a 3rd round cut will be made by the Tournament Directors.

The field:

204 professionals

Defending champion:

Zimbabwe’s Benjamin Follett-Smith is the defending champion, having earned his maiden Sunshine Tour title via a two-stroke victory over Cape Town’s Jean-Paul Strydom and Zander Lombard on a 13-under-par 275 total.

The course:

Royal Cape Golf Club:

The Royal Cape Golf Club was established in 1885 which makes it South Africa’s oldest golf club. It is in the shadow of Table Mountain and is subject to three of nature’s beguiling offerings: a near-constant wind to challenge, sweeping mountain views to charm and water features to ensnare.  The par-72 course which is 6,121 metres in length was designed by Charles Murray and its fairway grass is Kikuyu, while the greens are made of Bent grass. There are plenty of challenging bunkers.

It is a course has hosted the SA Open 10 times, as well as many other professional and top amateur events. Winners at Royal Cape include Gary Player, Ernie Els, Mark McNulty and Trevor Immelman.

Tree-lined with narrow fairways and subtle greens, Royal presents a traditional test of golf, although the numerous ponds and lakes teeming with birdlife provide beauty and distraction along the way.

King David Mowbray Golf Club:

Set in a very central area – about 15 minutes from the V&A Waterfront and Cape Town International Airport – King David Mowbray is a parkland course, which provides an excellent test of golf. The terrain is flat, but plenty of trees and water features make for an interesting experience, with the beauty of the mountain and abundant wildlife dominating the scenery.

A significant feature of any coastal course is, of course, the wind. This is where King David Mowbray is unique, in that the holes have been so laid out that you will seldom find yourself with the wind directly in your face or right at your back. Also, believe it or not, the wind in Pinelands is seldom as severe as in other parts of the peninsula.

Both fairways and greens remain soft throughout the year. The fairways consist predominantly of Kikuyu grass while the greens are paspalum which provides an excellent putting surface. Experiments with pure bentgrass have not been successful, so the indigenous grass family variety is now being “managed”, with more than satisfactory results.

While the course is not particularly long, the golfer will find King David Mowbray a real challenge. It is generally accepted that the SA Golf Association ratings of 71 from the back tees and 69 from the front make it about 2 or 3 strokes more difficult than average. Don’t let this put you off, however. If you hit the ball straight, you’ll do well and even if you go off line here and there, the rough is very forgiving and is kept well-trimmed.


Form player:

JC Ritchie is coming into this event red hot. He comes to the Cape at the back of not one but two successful title-defences at the team championship a fortnight ago and in Limpopo just this past weekend. Those victories follow sixth-place and seventh-place finishes at the SA Open and Eye of Africa PGA Championship, respectively.

To put things into perspective, Ritchie has not missed a cut since September last year when he did so at the King’s Cup in eSwatini and has not finished outside of the top 10 since this year began. His best finish in the Cape dates back to 2018 when he finished third here and the way he is currently playing, it would not be a surprise to see him in the mix here come the weekend.

Sentimental pick:

A final-round 74 proved to be local man, Jean-Paul Strydom’s undoing last year here after he had played some brilliant golf in the week to get in contention for what would have been his first Sunshine Tour victory.

Strydom enjoys the windy Cape and while he was also runner-up last here, he also boasts a fifth-place finish in this tournament, a feat he achieved back in 2015. While he has not enjoyed a jaw-dropping season in the way of best results, his has been a decent season which included a runners-up finish, a top 15 and a top 25 result. Plus, by his own admission, he tends to play rather well in the windy conditions with which golf in Cape Town is associated.

He has everything it takes to go one better here following last year’s disappointment when Follett-Smith won last season.


Anton Haig has had to wait a long time for his third Sunshine Tour title, having last tasted victory on Tour back in 2007 when he claimed the Johnny Walker Classic which was co-sanctioned with the European Tour, and which is now defunct.

He has enjoyed a decent season so far, sitting 73rd on the Order of Merit after 17 starts and last week’s seventh-place finish was yet another glimpse into the quality he possesses when he is in a good form. While he is a proven winner, with four titles to his name (Seekers Travel Pro-Am 2005, MTC Namibia PGA Championship 2006, Pulai Springs Malaysian Masters on the Asian Tour in 2006 and that playoff victory over Richard Sterne and Oliver Wilson in the Johnny Walker Classic of 2007) Haig has not enjoyed a lot of success on Tour, and this follows years of absence from the professional golf scenes. Despite all this, however, on a few occasions since he regained his Sunshine Tour playing privileges, he has shown glimpses of the player he was in the mid-2000s and that top 10 finish last week in Limpopo would have reminded him what it felt like being at the top.

A win in Cape Town would not only assure him of his own ability to win but would mark a new chapter for his career overall.


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Ritchie completes a double in Limpopo Championship

2nd February 2020

Ritchie completes a double in Limpopo Championship

JC Ritchie created more history for himself after he successfully defended his Limpopo Championship title on Sunday, following another title-defence just a week earlier, when he claimed a two-stroke victory over Wilco Nienaber at Euphoria Golf and Lifestyle Estate.

It was something of a déjà vu for Ritchie in that last year he and his playing partner and friend, Jaco Prinsloo, first won the Gauteng Team Championship hosted by Dainfern before he claimed the inaugural Limpopo Championship, a week later. They defended successfully last week and this week, this week he defended his title to make two title-defences in two weeks.

“It’s extremely special to have defended here,” he said after his final round of 67, his second in succession. “You see, there are not many people who can say they have defended a title, so defending two titles in a row is just something that’s crazy special for me.”

To make his defence even more special is the fact that he went around the Euphoria track bogey-free on Saturday and on Sunday.

“I’ve never done that on the weekend,” he says of his blemish-free third and fourth rounds in Modimolle. “To play that kind of good golf on the weekend around here is special because it’s tough here. I watched guys make bogeys from everywhere, which they never do. So, it was ideal for my game plan. Brilliant ball-striking all week long. I have not been this in control of my game for a long time, so I am very happy.”

Despite the gallant efforts by the chasing pack which included the impressive rookie, Wilco Nienaber, the long-hitting Jacques Kruyswijk who used to call this golf club a home while he was younger and was the overnight leader and another local man, Hennie du Plessis, Ritchie showed great composure to claim his second victory in the Limpopo Championship.

A total of 19-under-par 269 earned Ritchie second Limpopo Championship in a row.

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Kruyswijk surges to solo lead at Euphoria

1st February 2020

Kruyswijk surges to solo lead at Euphoria

A combination of some solid golf and knowledge of the golf course helped Jacques Kruyswijk to a two-stroke lead in the Limpopo Championship following a three-under-par 69 third round, which took his total to 16-under, at Euphoria Golf and Lifestyle Estate.

Kruyswijk grew up in this region of the country and for a number of years, called Euphoria and Koro Creek Bushveld and Golf Estate, his home courses. Coming into the third round co-leading by two shots at 13-under-par, the long-hitting Kruyswijk knew he had it all to do on day three if he was to keep his spot at the top of the leaderboard.

Back-to-back pars on the first two holes settled him down and then a birdie went into his card on the third. From there, Kruyswijk made a birdie on every other hole as he turned in 32 and bogey-free. Scoring proved difficult in round three with the wind, especially on the back nine, gusting all over the place, making it tough for even the very best golfer out there to put together a decent score there.

“It was difficult out there today,” said the 28-year old Kruyswijk who plays out of Centurion Country Club. “The wind picked up quite a lot especially on the back nine. There were a couple of tough flags which made it difficult for scoring. But I just kept a cool head even on the back nine, that wasn’t y best back nine ever but the front nine covered for that.”

He made eight pars and a bogey on that homeward stretch, but he was, overall, pleased with his work up to this point of the competition.

“I’m pleased because of the work I’ve done leading up to this tournament,” he said of his recent resurgence after a disappointing season in Europe. “This is where I should be. I keep on saying this, this is where I should be every single week. I should be contending to win tournaments every week and I’m just excited to tee it up tomorrow and see what happens.”

He will have to be very sharp in the final round because the defending JC Ritchie and Louis de Jager are only two shots off the pace and any slip-ups at any stage of the round might prove costly.

Ritchie’s 67 was the best score of the day while De Jager carded a 71 to total 14-under. The final round of this championship, much like the third, will be streamed live on the Sunshine Tour Facebook and YouTube channels.