Executive Mayor tees off 2020 Joburg Open

19th November 2020

Executive Mayor tees off 2020 Joburg Open

The City of Johannesburg welcomed its first major international sports event since the easing of lockdown restrictions when Councillor Geoffrey Makhubo, the Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, hit the honorary tee shot to signal the start of Thursday’s first round of the Joburg Open at Randpark Golf Club.

“It’s very exciting for us as the City of Johannesburg to be able to showcase our amazing city and be able to let the world know we are still open for business. The Joburg Open is a great leap for us in terms of our COVID-19 economic recovery in Johannesburg,” said Councillor Makhubo.

Randpark’s Firethorn course will host a mix of Sunshine Tour and European Tour professionals over the next four days as they compete for a prize fund of R19.5 million.

“Johannesburg is the home of golf in South Africa, and Randpark is one of the finest golf courses we have. The course is in pristine condition for this tournament, and I think the professionals will enjoy themselves.”

The Mayor also said he hopes the Joburg Open provides even more encouragement for tourists to visit Johannesburg and enjoy what the city has to offer.

“We have a lot to offer, even though there are COVID-19 restrictions. We are still in lockdown, but an eased lockdown of Level 1. For visitors to our city we still have game reserves to enjoy, the Cradle of Humankind, and world-class shopping. So please come and visit.”

Stone ready to roll in Joburg Open

17th November 2020

Stone ready to roll in Joburg Open

Brandon Stone tees it up in this week’s Joburg Open determined to complete what he calls the trilogy of victories in Sunshine Tour co-sanctioned tournaments at Randpark Golf Club.

Stone has already won the South African Open and the Alfred Dunhill Championship, which are co-sanctioned with the European Tour. The return of the Joburg Open to the European Tour schedule gives him the chance to complete his trilogy when this tournament tees off on Thursday.

“The Joburg Open is the last leg of the trilogy of Sunshine Tour co-sanctioned tournaments that I’m going for. I’d love to add this one as a win this week,” Stone said on Tuesday.

But in the bigger picture of what 2020 has delivered, Stone is full of praise for the fact that he and his fellow professionals simply have the Joburg Open as the start of three big weeks of competitive golf in South Africa, including the Alfred Dunhill Championship and the South African Open.

“The reward of having three big tournaments in South Africa now is fantastic. We’re extremely fortunate to actually play tournament golf this year, especially when you look at other sports around the world and how limited they’ve been.

“The work that the European Tour and Sunshine Tour have done is simply sensational. You can see the people in charge have been working tirelessly to get us back out here again. I’m very fortunate to be in an occupation where I’m playing for R19.5 million on a beautiful golf course in beautiful weather, so there are worse places you could be and sometimes you need to just remind yourself of that.”

Having experienced the stringent COVID-19 testing protocols on the European Tour, Stone was full of praise for the work done by the Sunshine Tour and City of Johannesburg to ensure the safety of the professionals competing this week.

“Once I arrived on-site and went through all the testing and protocols, you could see everyone here knows what they’re doing. They’ve spent a lot of time and effort in getting the Joburg Open to the standard it needs to be under COVID-19, and to be honest I think they’ve excelled. It’s sensational. The lab and testing was so professional. There’s nothing enjoyable about taking a COVID-19 test, but having someone with a smile on their face do it to you sure helps. South Africans are known for their positive attitude in challenging times, and this week has been no exception to that.”

And Stone feels his own form is peaking at exactly the right time for his return to home fairways.

“It’s been a strange year for everyone. I had a few nice results before lockdown, and then over the last few months I’ve been slowly getting back to that kind of form again. My game feels like it’s coming together nicely. I also love this golf course. The greens are always fantastic here, and you have a really nice mix here of some strong holes and those that are a little more forgiving.” – Michael Vlismas

Woods inspires Schaper ahead of Joburg Open

16th November 2020

Woods inspires Schaper ahead of Joburg Open

Michael Vlismas

It was the performance of Tiger Woods at The Masters that has made young South African star Jayden Schaper even more determined to take the challenges of 2020 and turn them into opportunity in this week’s Joburg Open at Randpark Golf Club.

Schaper returns to the scene of his incredible performance in January’s South African Open hosted by the City of Joburg where, as the country’s top-ranked amateur, he challenged for the title and finished tied sixth behind winner Branden Grace.

He now tees it up in this week’s R19.5 million Joburg Open as one of the professionals in this Sunshine Tour and European Tour co-sanctioned field. Schaper secured his playing privileges at the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School in March and was looking forward to his rookie season before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

But the 19-year-old is determined to use Woods’s example at The Masters, where the 15-time Major champion followed up a 10 on the par-three 12thhole with five birdies in his next six holes of the final round, as his own motivation this week.

“It’s been an odd year that nobody could’ve predicted. It’s been tough to have my first year as a professional where you just have to sit at home, and I cannot go out and do what I’ve prepared for my whole life. But all the good players find a way to bounce back. I watched Tiger Woods make 10 on the 12th hole of The Masters and then come back with five birdies in six holes. I’m trying to take it the same way. Everybody gets a tough break sometimes, but the great players show how they come out of that,” Schaper said after a practice round at Randpark on Monday.

There is certainly a sense of opportunity for Schaper this week. Since the Sunshine Tour’s restart in August, Schaper has looked solid with only one missed cut in his last eight tournaments as well as three top-10s. He’s now starting to feel like his game is approaching where he wants it to be, and the Joburg Open could well provide the same spark to his career as it did for some of South Africa’s top professionals when the tournament tees off on Thursday.

Branden Grace claimed his first European Tour title in the 2012 Joburg Open. The Joburg Open was also a first European Tour title for George Coetzee when he won it in 2014, and it’s the same for Haydn Porteous, who won this title in 2016.

“This is the time to peak. These next three weeks (the Joburg Open, Alfred Dunhill Championship and South African Open) are really important. I didn’t expect these events to happen this year and am very grateful to everyone who made them possible. I’m playing on an invitation this week and I’m just as grateful for that. I’m just looking forward to it, and to going out and doing what I do best, which is playing golf and having fun.”

Another special SA Open moment for Gary Player 1

15th November 2020

Another special SA Open moment for Gary Player

Of the many titles and records Gary Player holds, his 13 South African Open victories rank among the most special to the Grand Slam champion.

It’s therefore fitting that this year the second oldest national Open in golf will for the first time in its history be played at the Gary Player Country Club at Sun City from 3-6 December, jointly supported by Nedbank and Sun International.

“The South African Open has always been immensely important to me in my career. I won it 13 times, but many times I couldn’t even play in it. I’d estimate that there were at least four occasions when I was in the prime of my career that I didn’t play the SA Open. But I’m extremely grateful to have won our national Open 13 times,” Player said of a record that will most likely never be broken.

The Gary Player Country Club will join an illustrious list of South Africa’s finest golf courses to have hosted the South African Open, and this is also a sense of great achievement for Player.

“I’m very proud that the Gary Player Country Club has been selected to host the SA Open this year. I can honestly say that never as a young man did I ever think the South African Open would be played on a golf course I had designed.

“Our national Open has travelled around the country and throughout its history has always been played on our most iconic golf courses. The fact that the Gary Player Country Club will now become a part of this history is a very special moment for me.”

One of the most exciting elements around this year’s South African Open will be the swapping of the nines at the Gary Player Country Club for this year’s tournament, thus seeing the picturesque par-five ninth hole serve as the finishing hole.

It’s a change Player is particulary excited about.

“That’s the most exciting thing about this year’s SA Open for me. It’s actually how the golf course was originally designed. As it plays now, the 16th, 17th and 18th holes make for a very tough finish. By finishing on the ninth, it’s going to make for an exciting end to the tournament. You can make an eagle there and it changes everything. I think the fans are going to enjoy watching this year’s finish from their homes,” he said.

It's Time

12th November 2020

It is Time

Louis Oosthuizen will be the first South African out when the first round of the 84th Masters begins today.

Oosthuizen tees off the 10th at 14:33 South Africa time in a marquee group with Bryson DeChambeau and Jon Rahm. Justin Harding, Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Dylan Frittelli also all begin their Masters week off the 10th at Augusta National Golf Club.

Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel gets his challenge underway at 14:55 off the first, with Erik van Rooyen also teeing off the first on his Masters debut.

You can catch all of the action on SuperSport are as follows:

SS Action (210): 14:45-00:30
SS Golf (213): 14:30-00:30
SS Grandstand (201): 14:30-00:30

SS Action (210): 14:45-00:30
SS Golf (213): 14:30-00:30
SS Grandstand (201): 14:30-00:30

SS Action (210): 17:00-00:00
SS Golf (213): 17:10-00:00
SS Grandstand (201): 17:20-00:00

SS Action (210): 15:00-22:00
SS Golf (213): 15:10-22:30
SS Grandstand (201): 16:45-22:30

Joburg Open a significant moment for Soweto golf

10th November 2020

Joburg Open a significant moment for Soweto golf

In a city that has played an important role in terms of the development of Black professional golf in South Africa, the return of the Joburg Open to the Sunshine Tour and European Tour schedules this November combined with the rebirth of Soweto Country Club will make for a very significant moment.

The 2020 Joburg Open at Randpark Golf Club from 19-22 November represents a very tangible beacon of success that a young Black golfer from Soweto can aspire towards. And the development of a now world-class golf facility in Soweto, a project which began in 2016 as a partnership with the Sunshine Tour and the City of Johannesburg as well as various stakeholders throughout the golf world, provides that pathway to success.

All of which makes the timing of the Joburg Open’s return to the international golf calendar for the first time since December 2017 so important.

Soweto Country Club professional Sipho Bujela is amongst those who will attempt to qualify for this year’s Joburg Open, and he is indeed playing with greater purpose. “I will be playing for the young amateur in Soweto who wishes to be a professional one day,” he said when he played in the last Joburg Open in 2017.

Soweto golfer Vincent Tshabalala’s 1976 French Open victory remains the gold standard for the country’s Black professionals seeking to become the first since then to win a European Tour event.

This year, Toto Thimba Jnr, Keenan Davidse and Dylan Naidoo will be amongst those leading the charge to change that.

Thimba Jnr. is already a winner on the Sunshine Tour in last year’s KCB Karen Masters, while Davidse has been knocking on the door for several seasons now and came close when he finished tied seventh in the 2017 Joburg Open.

Naidoo made a powerful statement when he challenged for Sunshine Tour Rookie of the Year honours at the end of last season, finishing third in that race, and he is clearly seen as a future champion following an impressive amateur career.

But the significance of a Soweto golfer’s success in the Joburg Open would be equally immense, and is something even 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman recognised when he attended the official opening of the new Soweto Country Club clubhouse in 2017.

“The opening of the clubhouse was such a passionate moment. You could feel the passion when the people were speaking, and you could feel how important this day was to them, and how important this club is going to be to the community,” he said.

This year, the aspirational link between Soweto’s young golfers and a place in future Joburg Opens will be as strong as ever.

Korb makes his Sunshine Tour breakthrough

6th November 2020

Korb makes his Sunshine Tour breakthrough

By Michael Vlismas

Ruan Korb claimed his maiden Sunshine Tour victory in the Time Square Casino Challenge at Wingate Park Country Club on Friday, and his timing was indeed spot on as he also booked himself a place in all three of the upcoming European Tour co-sanctioned tournaments in South Africa.

Korb birdied the last hole to win by one shot over Anton Haig, closing with a 70 for a total of 15 under par. He is now exempt for all three of the upcoming Joburg Open, Alfred Dunhill Championship and South African Open.

“It feels so good. I am very grateful. I’m so glad that my days of pre-qualifying for tournaments are over,” said a delighted Korb.

Haig took second place on 14 under with a closing 66, while Jake Redman and Deon Germishuys shared third place on 12 under with respective final rounds of 69 and 70.

There is no overstating what this win means to Korb. After a difficult 2019 and then the lockdown of 2020, he says he still came out of that with a feeling that this could be his year. And he put all of that self-belief into a six-foot putt on the 18th that pulled him free of a tie with Haig on 14 under and earned him the winning birdie.

“I’m so happy to have pulled it off. I was on the 17th when I saw the leaderboard and that Anton had made par at the last, so I knew I had to make birdie on 18 to win. It was a six-footer, but there were so many thoughts going through my head.

“I’m just glad I was able to do it. I don’t think I played my best golf today, but I managed to pull it through. I almost cried on the 18th when I made the putt. I haven’t felt like that in a very long time. It’s such a great feeling.”

Young star Higgo targets SA Open at Sun City

Young star Higgo targets SA Open at Sun City

Garrick Higgo will return to South Africa as the country’s most recent European Tour champion when he plays in all three of the upcoming Sunshine Tour and European Tour co-sanctioned tournaments, and with a particular focus on the 110th South African Open at the Gary Player Country Club from 3-6 December.

Higgo has confirmed he will play the entire summer swing of co-sanctioned tournaments consisting of the Joburg Open at Randpark Golf Club (19-22 November), the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek (26-29 November) and the South African Open – jointly supported by Nedbank and Sun International – at Sun City.

The winner of the Open de Portugal at Royal Óbidos in September joins a strong contingent of South Africa’s European Tour champions who will be back on home fairways for these three events, including Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Dylan Frittelli, George Coetzee, Brandon Stone and Dean Burmester.

Higgo will feel particularly confident ahead of the South African Open. He won his first Sunshine Tour event – the Sun City Challenge – at the Gary Player Country Club  in 2019, and is looking forward to returning there as a European Tour winner this year.

“It’s going to be awesome going back there for the South African Open, although it will be different. That was my first win, but that was in the winter and I think the golf course will play differently in the summer. It should be longer and softer, but you still need to be straight off the tee and you need a lot of patience. Playing anywhere where you have good memories is fun. I can’t wait,” said Higgo.

This will be the first time in the history of the second oldest national Open in golf that it will be played at the iconic Gary Player Country Club, and with it will come a change to the layout of this celebrated golf course.

The nines will be swapped so that the picturesque par-five ninth hole becomes the finishing hole.

“Finishing on the ninth will be good because you can have the chance to make an eagle to win,”said Higgo.

“In its traditional format, the 17th and 18th make for such a tough finish. If you have a one-shot lead coming down those final two holes, it’s a very different challenge.”

Higgo’s return to South Africa comes amidst what’s been a meteoric rise for the 21-year-old since he turned professional in 2019. He won twice on the Sunshine Tour that season and was named the Rookie of the Year. Then in 2020 he broke through on the European Tour with his victory in the Open de Portugal.

“I haven’t yet played a tournament in South Africa since I won on the European Tour this year, so it’s going to be nice coming home as a European Tour winner. The South Africa Open is definitely the one we as South African golfers all want to win.”

Wimpy breakfast carries Korb into lead

5th November 2020

Wimpy breakfast carries Korb into lead


By Michael Vlismas

Ruan Korb woke up on Thursday morning, saw the bad weather that would force a delayed start of the second round of the Time Square Casino Challenge at Wingate Park Country Club, and decided the best way to prepare for it was a Wimpy breakfast with his girlfriend.

And it worked.

Korb signed for a sublime 64 that took him to the top of the leaderboard of this Sunshine Tour event on 13 under par, giving him a three-stroke clubhouse lead before bad light forced a suspension of the second round.

First-round leader Deon Germishuys kept within touching distance of the lead on 10 under par following a 70, while Martin Rohwer was also on that total with two holes to play.

“We are staying quite close to the golf course so when I woke up I knew there was going to be a delay. That’s when I decided to take my girlfriend for a lekker Wimpy breakfast,” said Korb.

Whether it was the Farmhouse special or the flapjacks, it had the desired result for a golfer who in his first tournament after lockdown finished third in the Betway Championship and decided right there that 2020 was going to be his year.

“During lockdown I didn’t practice much at all. I hit maybe 200 balls into a net. That was it. But when we came back I just had this feeling it was going to be my year. It’s a weird feeling, but in that first tournament I hit the ball really well and just felt it was going to be a better year than last year.”

This is the first time Korb is leading a Sunshine Tour event.

“It nice to see my name on top of the leaderboard. I’m feeling positive. I enjoy Wingate because I used to be a member here for four years. I always like coming back to play it.”

Korb is also keenly aware of what a win could mean for him.

“I always knew this was going to be a big week. A win will make me exempt for all three of the upcoming European Tour co-sanctioned tournaments.”

And a big pay day in one of those can buy a few Wimpy breakfasts.

The greatest of The Sunshine Boys

The greatest of The Sunshine Boys

By Dan Retief
By far the most profuse name in the extensive Index of my history of The Sunshine Tour, “The Sunshine Boys,” is “Player, Gary.”
This is unsurprising as not only is Gary Player South Africa’s greatest golfer he is also the country’s all-time greatest sportsman – both for the number of successes he achieved but also for his unquenchable positivity and superhuman longevity.
Player was born in 1935. He turned professional in 1953 at the age of 18 with no amateur record to speak of. He won his first tournament on foreign soil in 1955 and he went on to win 9 Majors, 9 Senior Majors in the course of registering 165 worldwide victories.
On Sunday, November 1, Gary Player turned 85.
And he was still going at it. Hitting balls, practising to outdrive his great rival and dear friend Jack Nicklaus in the ceremonial start of the Masters at Augusta, raising funds for cancer care, assisting youngsters and, perhaps his greatest attribute, simply being nice to people.
As a lifelong golf addict I first became aware of Gary when he won the British Open in 1959. I was eight years old. In 1965 he completed the Grand Slam (the unique achievement of having won all four Majors) and I saved up my pocket money to buy a Golf Digest magazine with him on the cover displayed in the window of a bookshop in Kimberley.
I matriculated in 1968 and was excited to go on holiday to Cape Town; especially because I would be able to see Gary in action against Billy Casper in a match staged at Mowbray GC (now King David Mowbray).
I took along binoculars and Gary’s book “Grand Slam Golf” in the hope of having it autographed. However, being a bit of a “plattelander” I held back in the crush around the two golfers and left without having the book signed to await my lift at the club’s entrance. As I stood there on the curb I started paging through the book and imagine my surprise when a big black car, I think it was an Austin Princess, pulled up at the stop sign, the back window wound down, and there was Gary Player.
“Do you want me to sign that for you?” he asked. I handed the book to him and stammered a thank you.
Player and Casper were in the backseat being ferried to the airport. (Sadly, I no longer have that copy of the book. It was borrowed from me and never returned).
My estimation of Gary went up even higher.
Later, thanks to my career, I was able to meet him many times and experience close up his burning desire to win, to never give up, to approach every shot as though his life depended on it. Sadly I did not see him win one of his foreign titles but I often saw him win in South Africa.
Now in 2020 I have completed “The Sunshine Boys” and I am proud that Gary contributed the foreword; a special cachet to a special project and that finally I can return the compliment and sign a book for him.
Happy birthday, Mr Player.
• The Sunshine Boys is available from specialist book marketing, sales and distribution company Blue Weaver (see link for details) based in Cape Town. [email protected] or Tel No: (021) 701-4477. Interested parties can ask for Michelle, Waleed or Mark.
Costs of Delivery/Courier services are for the account of the purchaser. (A courier charge of R75 within the borders of SA will apply).
Further information: Dan Retief on +27 (0) 82 853 4840. (Mobile and
WhatsApp) or e-mail [email protected]
Distribution is also underway to Exclusive stores, the ProShop and on-course golf shops.