SHARE ON: [addtoany buttons='facebook,twitter,email']
Titleist tees off new event on Rise-Up Series

31st August 2020

Titleist tees off new event on Rise-Up Series


Titleist has confirmed its sponsorship of the Titleist Championship, the third tournament on the Sunshine Tour’s new Rise-Up Series.

The R600 000 Titleist Championship will be played over 54 holes at Pretoria Country Club from 2-4 September and forms part of the five-tournament Rise-Up Series that signals the restart of the Sunshine Tour’s schedule following the COVID-19-enforced lockdown.

“We’re delighted to welcome Titleist to the Rise-Up Series and are grateful for their support of our effort to give our professionals playing opportunities. Titleist are a longstanding partner to the Sunshine Tour and it’s wonderful to now welcome them as a title tournament sponsor as well,” said Selwyn Nathan, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour.

Titleist is an official partner to the Sunshine Tour and also a strong supporter of the Tour’s development efforts through its annual donation of all the range balls used on Tour to the South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB).

“We are very proud of our long history with the Sunshine Tour and are pleased that we can further grow this with our sponsorship of the Titleist Championship and reinforce our status as golf’s leading brand supporting the game and its stars,” said Leonard Loxton, Manager of Leadership Promotion for Acushnet.

SHARE ON: [addtoany buttons='facebook,twitter,email']
New diet has Van Tonder hungry for success

28th August 2020

New diet has Van Tonder hungry for success

It seems a new diet of intermittent fasting only made Daniel van Tonder even more hungry to win as he claimed his fourth victory on the Sunshine Tour in the African Bank Sunshine Tour Championship at Glendower Golf Club on Friday.

Van Tonder started the final round in a three-way tie for the lead and signed for a bogey-free 68 to win by three shots on 11 under par 205 on the Tour’s new Rise-Up Series.

Adilson da Silva, George Coetzee and Neil Schietekat shared second place on eight under par, while Dylan Mostert produced another solid performance as he followed up a share of 15th in last week’s Betway Championship with a fifth place at Glendower on six under par.

Van Tonder put his success down to intense work on his game during lockdown, and a new approach to his nutrition.

“I decided to use lockdown to my advantage. I used the time to practice hard and make changes in my swing, and also within myself,” he said.

“I’ve changed the way I eat and I’ve lost about 20 kilogrammes. I follow a plan of intermittent fasting and it’s made a huge difference. I feel a lot better and have actually gained distance because I’m a bit more supple. So everything feels a bit more consistent now.”

Van Tonder was tied for the lead with Martin Rohwer and Jayden Schaper at the start of the final round. But as both Rohwer and Schaper closed with rounds of 75 to slip into a finish of tied sixth on four under, Van Tonder produced a measured round of four birdies to take the title.

“I’ve been playing well leading up to this. I just felt very calm and focused out there and am enjoying myself more. It’s a new time, and a new me,” he said.

Jaco Ahlers leads the Betway Birdie Challenge through two tournaments on the Rise-Up Series with 29 birdies. The Betway Birdie Challenge will run for the full five tournaments on the series, with the leading birdie maker walking away with R25 000 at the end of the series, followed by R15 000 for second place and R10 000 for third.

SHARE ON: [addtoany buttons='facebook,twitter,email']
Schaper targets maiden Sunshine Tour title

27th August 2020

Schaper targets maiden Sunshine Tour title

The 18-year-old sensation Jayden Schaper is on the brink of a maiden Sunshine Tour victory as he heads into Friday’s final round of the African Bank Sunshine Tour Championship in a three-way tie for the lead.

The newest star of South African professional golf shares a one-stroke lead over the field on seven under par 137 alongside Martin Rohwer and Daniel van Tonder, and following his round of two-under-par 70 at Glendower Golf Club on Thursday.

Schaper had an adventurous start to his round with two bogeys and an eagle in his first four holes, and it was not until the 12th hole where he started to find his rhythm as he made three birdies in four holes from there.

“The course played a lot tougher today because of a bit more wind. I struggled to pick out where the wind was coming from and I just didn’t get off to a good start. I only hit three fairways in my first 12 holes, and I had a few three putts as well so I put myself under a lot of pressure. But the last few holes it came together. I knew the back nine is a lot easier and more accessible with the two par fives and not much trouble on the par fours, and I finished stronger just like I needed to,” he said.

Schaper impressed all when as an amateur he finished tied sixth in January’s South African Open hosted by the City of Johannesburg. He turned professional shortly thereafter and secured his Sunshine Tour card with a finish of 10th at the Qualifying School and before the national lockdown came into effect.

But since the restart of the Tour’s Rise-Up Series, he’s wasted no time putting himself in contention. He finished tied 15th in last week’s Betway Championship, and now has a clear shot at a maiden title.

“I left quite a few out there, but I’m glad I could still post a decent score today. I’m still up there. You’ve got to keep grinding out on this golf course. I’m excited for the final round, and we’ll see what happens.”

Rohwer will be pleased to have kept his place at the top of the leaderboard with a level-par 72 after leading on day one, while Van Tonder moved into contention with a round of two-under-par 70.

Jaco Ahlers is one shot back of the leaders following his second round of 68. Darren Fichardt is on track for back-to-back victories on the Rise-Up Series as he heads into Friday’s final round just two shots off the lead, and fellow multiple European Tour champion George Coetzee is only three shots back.

SHARE ON: [addtoany buttons='facebook,twitter,email']
Rohwer on the Rise

26th August 2020

Rohwer on the Rise

Martin Rohwer’s form on the Sunshine Tour’s new Rise-Up Series is indeed on the rise as the KwaZulu-Natal professional took the first-round lead in the African Bank Sunshine Tour Championship at Glendower Golf Club on Wednesday.

Rohwer hit the top of the leaderboard only a few days after finishing seventh in last week’s Betway Championship, and he did so with a bogey-free round of seven-under-par 65 that started with a birdie on the 10th – his first hole – and ended with three consecutive birdies.

He holds a one-stroke lead over the field. Lyle Rowe is his nearest challenger following a 66, while young star Jayden Schaper is in a group of players who opened with rounds of 67. Darren Fichardt is three off the lead and looking for back-to-back wins on the series.

Rohwer is certainly looking to make the most of this new series of five tournaments. He had a busy schedule of international tournaments planned, including an exemption into the Second Stage of the European Tour’s Qualifying School, before COVID-19 changed all of that.

“I was going to go to Europe for a few Challenge Tour events and then the European Tour’s Qualifying School. I was also exempt into the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship over there until that all changed. But fortunately my exemptions will carry through to next year. So I’m just going to play as many tournaments as I can here and do as well as I can,” he said.

Rohwer’s current form is in line with his start to 2020 when he finished tied sixth in the South African Open hosted by the City of Johannesburg in January.

“I played well in January and February, so it’s good to see that I’ve maintained that form after lockdown. I’m extremely happy with my 65 today. I hit the ball well from tee to green and I gave myself chances throughout the round. I drove the ball really well and hit most of the fairways, so I had a lot of birdie chances out there.”

SHARE ON: [addtoany buttons='facebook,twitter,email']
Otto’s Rise-Up journey is a deeply personal one

25th August 2020

Otto’s Rise-Up journey is a deeply personal one

For Hennie Otto, the Sunshine Tour’s new Rise-Up Series is deeply personal.

When the three-time European Tour champion tees it up at Glendower Golf Club on Wednesday for the start of this week’s African Bank Sunshine Tour Championship, he will do so as a golfer rising up and looking for the next win in his career, as a husband rising up from the recent passing of his wife, and as a father rising up for his two young boys.

“It’s been tough. It’s hard losing your wife. But you know, you can’t sit still. You have to move on,” says Otto.

He took his sons, Hennie Jnr. and JJ, on a 4 500-kilometre road trip around South Africa for the three of them to deal with the loss. “We visited all our friends on farms. We needed that, just to get away. It was nice for us to bond like that, and the boys are in a good space now.”

And at the end of that epic journey, they have arrived at a new adventure. A new beginning. “We’re moving to Paarl because I have a great support system there with my family. The boys are in good schools there, and I can focus on my golf.”

The focus this week will be on a Glendower Golf Club course that has always been one of Otto’s favourites. He finished second in the South African Open played here in 2013, and also second in the BMG Classic that same year.

“It’s an old-style golf course and I always just get a great feeling playing there. You have to actually play that golf course and think your way around it, you can’t just bomb it off the tee. If you can get it going there, you can score really well.”

There will be an added incentive for Otto this week. His eldest son Hennie Jnr. will be on his bag caddying for the old man.

“He is a diabetic and our doctor advised me not to send him back to school because of the Coronavirus. So he’s doing online schooling but also traveling with me and caddying for me on this Rise-Up Series.”

And every evening, they will braai together. “You know me. Every night is braai night for me. It’s like I always have a fire on, I just add more wood every night and keep it going.”

SHARE ON: [addtoany buttons='facebook,twitter,email']
Fichardt cashes in at Betway Championship

21st August 2020

Fichardt cashes in at Betway Championship

It was akin to the kind of move made from Lockdown Level 5 to Level 2 in one sweep as Darren Fichardt surged through the field with a final round of 64 to win the Sunshine Tour’s Betway Championship by a single stroke at Killarney Country Club on Friday.

With the lowest round of this 54-hole tournament and not a single bogey on his card, Fichardt overcame a six-shot deficit as he stormed up the leaderboard on the final day to win by one on three-under-par 207.

“It looks like I need to take five months off and then play tournaments,” said Fichardt, who wins the first tournament on the new Rise-Up Series that has ushered in the return to action of the Sunshine Tour.

“I’m very happy to win. It was so good to have those butterflies in your stomach going again. Sitting on the couch for five months was tough and I’m really happy to be back.”

Ulrich van den Berg came inches close to holing his long birdie putt at the last that would have forced a playoff. Van Den Berg took second place on two-under 208 with a closing 69 that in itself marked a welcome return to form for him.

But apart from the 65 of Jaco van Zyl to finish tied seventh, Fichardt was in a class of his own as he relied on every bit of the experience he’s gained from his five European Tour victories on his way to claiming his 18th victory on the Sunshine Tour. It’s also his second victory this year after winning the Eye of Africa PGA Championship in January.

“I worked really hard in the gym during lockdown and on getting my strength up. You know, 26 years on tour, lockdown was good in that it gave me time with my family and time to do some focused work in the gym which you can’t always do when you’re touring every week. And I feel I’ve needed this to give my career a bit more longevity.”

Jaco van Zyl leads the Betway Birdie Challenge after this first tournament on the Rise-Up Series with 13 birdies. The Betway Birdie Challenge will run for the full five tournaments on the series, with the leading birdie maker walking away with R25 000 at the end of the series, followed by R15 000 for second place and R10 000 for third.

SHARE ON: [addtoany buttons='facebook,twitter,email']
Haindl likes his odds in Betway Championship

20th August 2020

Haindl likes his odds in Betway Championship

The hours spent working on about the only thing a golfer can do during lockdown – putting – paid off for Alex Haindl as he signed for a 67 to take a one-stroke lead going into Friday’s final round of the Betway Championship on the Sunshine Tour’s new Rise-Up Series.

Haindl made some big birdie putts and equally important par saves at Killarney Country Club on Thursday to top the leaderboard on three under par 137 overall.

His nearest challenger is a resurgent Anton Haig, who signed for a second consecutive 69 and whose recent history with Killarney Country Club is a perfect match for this week’s sponsor – Betway. “I recently joined a group of golfers who play quite a few money games at Killarney. It’s helped me so much playing here a lot more in recent weeks. I’ve had probably about 10 practice rounds here in the last couple of weeks,” he said.

And just two shots off the lead is the vastly experienced duo of Ulrich van den Berg and Adilson da Silva.

But after a first round of 70 and then a second round of 67, Haindl definitely feels like he’s moving in the right direction as this tournament progresses. And his putting – particularly in the stretch of three birdies in five holes after the turn – has been a large part of that process.

“I turned level par and then made a 20-footer for birdie on the first. I had a good chance on two and didn’t make that, but then on the third I made a 10-footer for birdie. The fifth is a par five and I made birdie there as well. I was also good out of the bunkers today and had a few good up-and-downs. Your short game is key on this course because you do miss a lot of greens. The course has been playing very firm and fast and it’s been difficult to get close to any of the pins. It’s been tricky,” said Haindl, a three-time winner on the Sunshine Tour whose last victory came in 2018.

“I’ve been working hard during the lockdown. But you don’t know what to expect until you test it in competition. You can only do so much hitting into a net in your garage. But it’s nice to see the game is decent. It’s just a case of sharpening it up now.”

Friday’s final round will be streamed live on DStv Now Channel 241 and on the Sunshine Tour’s platforms on YouTube and Facebook from 12-3pm.

SHARE ON: [addtoany buttons='facebook,twitter,email']
Mostert leads as Sunshine Tour returns

19th August 2020

Mostert leads as Sunshine Tour returns

Dylan Mostert opened with a three-under-par 67 for a one-stroke lead in Wednesday’s first round of the Betway Championship at Killarney Country Club, and in what was a generally cautious start by most of the field in the first Sunshine Tour tournament since February.

Mostert is one clear of Dylan Naidoo, Ruan Korb and Albert Venter who all signed for rounds of 68.

Mostert was one of only eight players in the field who broke par on day one of this Rise-Up Series 54-hole tournament, thanks to a mix of bitterly cold conditions and shaking off a bit of lockdown swing rust.

“I think most of the players are just going out there and getting a feel for it again, and just trying to get back into tournament mode,” said Mostert.

For Mostert, the work he did on his putting during lockdown made all the difference.

“I put in a lot of work during lockdown and I’m glad to see it paying off. I worked a lot on my putting – on my set-up and pace. And it feels great to lead. I think this is the first time I’m leading a tournament on the Sunshine Tour. I had no expectations coming into this week and was so excited just to play.

“But I stayed really patient out there, which was also key. I made back-to-back bogeys at holes seven and eight, and then I made a great par save at the ninth and a good par putt on the 10th to keep my round on track.”

That kind of patience will be important as Mostert faces an early tee-off time in Thursday’s second round.

“I’m expecting it to be tougher because I’m off early on day two. So it’s going to be freezing and the greens will be rock hard. But it’s just about staying focused and grinding where I need to while staying focused on every shot out there.”

The tournament signals the return of the Sunshine Tour for the first time since February and following the national lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And it was Benoni professional Pieter Moolman who had the honour of leading the field in its return as he teed off first at just after 7am.

“It felt great to feel that excitement for the new season and to actually be playing a tournament again. I think we’re all craving that adrenaline and excitement on the golf course, and making birdies,” he said.

SHARE ON: [addtoany buttons='facebook,twitter,email']
It's time to Rise-Up and play

18th August 2020

It’s time to Rise-Up and play

After a six-month break, the Sunshine Tour will finally start its 2020/21 season this week with the R600 000 Betway Championship at Killarney Country Club.

Multiple European Tour and Sunshine Tour champion George Coetzee headlines this field of professional golfers, many of whom last played competitively on the Sunshine Tour in February before the national lockdown and who are relishing a return to the fairways in what is also the first tournament on the new Rise-Up Series of five 54-hole events all played in Gauteng.

After months of hitting golf balls into nets in the back garden, training in home gyms and sharpening their minds with everything from Zoom sessions with sports psychologists to deep introspection about their careers, 107 professional golfers will finally have something to play for when they tee off in Wednesday’s first round.

“I think everybody is very excited. It’s been a long wait,” said Coetzee. “Fortunately we’ve been able to play and practice socially, but it’s not the same as playing competitive golf. I’ve stayed busy and played a few money games with some other pros just to try and keep competitive and sharp. I’m not expecting too much from my game. I’ve prepared well but it’s not about the results for me now. It’s more about just getting back into that competitive groove again.”

Fellow professional Jake Roos was just as grateful to be back in action again. “It’s important for us to be playing again. Although we’ve all done a lot of practice at home, you want to go out and test that in a tournament environment. You can’t just play with your mates for a pie and a Coke and think your game is fine. You want to test it in a tournament where you’re playing for money. And especially for those players who have ambitions of getting onto other tours and playing overseas. So just the fact that we are competing again is very important.”

It was a common theme amongst the professionals who gathered for their practice rounds on Tuesday.

“It’s nice to be out here again,” said Jaco Ahlers. “This was the longest break from the game I’ve ever had in my career. Just to be out here again with everybody and not sitting at home is great. I’ve put in a lot of work on my own game, but I suppose the biggest adjustment will be to get your head into that competitive mode again.”

“I’m so excited just to be able to be competitive again and get those competitive juices flowing,” said Heinrich Bruiners.

Jacques Blaauw was so starved for competitive golf that when South African golf courses were allowed to open again, and before the Sunshine Tour resumed, he arranged a money game with several fellow professionals.

“I did a little Monday dash for cash to get the guys playing some competitive golf again. We played for our own money and it was good fun,” he said.

The field this week also includes young professional Jayden Schaper. Schaper made headlines as one of South Africa’s top amateurs who finished sixth in the South African Open hosted by the City of Johannesburg in January. He turned professional thereafter, securing his Tour card with a 10th-place finish at the Qualifying School.

SHARE ON: [addtoany buttons='facebook,twitter,email']
Rise-Up Series “Ready to rumble”

11th August 2020

Rise-Up Series “Ready to rumble”

Multiple Sunshine Tour champion Jake Roos says his fellow professionals are “Ready to rumble” and excited to return to action in the Tour’s new Rise-Up Series which tees off in Gauteng on 19 August.

The Rise-Up Series marks the official resumption of the Sunshine Tour’s schedule under the new COVID-19 government regulations. The series will feature five 54-hole tournaments, each with a purse of R600 000 and with a full field of professionals, and all played in Gauteng. The final round of each tournament will be streamed live on the Sunshine Tour streaming platforms and DStv Now.

“The professionals are very excited. It’s been a long time coming. The last tournament we played in was the Tour Championship in February, so everyone is really grateful for this new series,” said Roos.

“These are tough times and it shows a lot of dedication from all involved to present a new series of five tournaments. As professionals we are very grateful for this opportunity to compete again. I think it’s uncharted waters for many of us. Some of the professionals have hardly ever taken a week off and now it’s suddenly been a few months off. Fortunately the golf courses have opened and we have had the opportunity to start practising again. Until you get into a tournament and feel the pressure of tournament play again, I think none of us are really certain where our games are at. But the positive is that everyone is well rested and ready to rumble again.”

Thomas Abt, the Deputy Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour, said the new series represents a rising up of professional golf on a number of fronts.

“Everybody understands that professional golf is critical to the health of the whole golf industry, and with the support of our sponsors and partners we’ve put together a series that we believe will create a lot of interest in professional golf again.

“We’re delighted that Betway, the sponsors of our first tournament on the series, the Betway Championship, will sponsor a new Betway Birdie Challenge. The top three professionals who make the most birdies throughout the entire series will win their share of a R50 000 prize, starting with R25 000 for the winner, R15 000 for second place and R10 000 for third place. And we are also pleased to announce that Betway will be a new partner to the Sunshine Tour going forward. AfricanBank also jumped at the opportunity to be a sponsor of this series, and we’re equally grateful to SuperSport for their support and the live-streaming of our final rounds on DStv Now. We also have a number of other new digital elements planned and ways to give our professionals the platforms to showcase their skills to a new audience and at a time when there are no spectators allowed at our tournaments.

“In terms of the host golf courses, we’ve selected courses that don’t regularly have the opportunity to host Sunshine Tour events with courses that traditionally do host a lot of tournaments. In this way we want to give other courses that opportunity in what has been a challenging time for all golf courses.”

Abt said the Sunshine Tour has a comprehensive risk mitigation strategy in place that incorporates the official GolfRSA Risk Mitigation Strategy as approved by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and elements of the strategies that have been employed by the PGA Tour and the European Tour in their restarts.

“All of our professionals and Sunshine Tour staff are undergoing a screening process and this started two weeks before the first tournament. We will also have a screening station at the various tournaments for all who enter the premises. If there are any inconsistencies that become prevalent in that screening, the player will be taken to a holding room for 20 minutes. He will then be subjected to a second screening. If there are still inconsistencies, then that player will have to leave the facility. And we will be vigilant in ensuring our players follow this to the letter of the law and as per the government regulations around all professional athletes and competition.

“We have also been in contact with our colleagues at both the PGA Tour and European Tour and they have shared their risk mitigation documents and strategies with us, and we have considered all of this in the development of our own strategy. So we are confident in our strategy and looking forward to this restart of our schedule.”