Stone has Major ambitions in Limpopo

20th April 2021

Stone has Major ambitions in Limpopo

Brandon Stone heads into this week’s Limpopo Championship with a very clear goal of using these next three European Challenge Tour events being hosted on the Sunshine Tour as preparation for next month’s PGA Championship.

Stone forms part of a strong South African field gathered at Euphoria Golf and Lifestyle Estate for the R3 million Limpopo Championship, which tees off on Thursday as the first of a three-week stretch of European Challenge Tour co-sanctioned events also including the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open and the Dimension Data Pro-Am.

Wilco Nienaber is back in South Africa for this event, as well as new European Tour member Daniel van Tonder, top GolfRSA amateur Casey Jarvis, defending champion JC Ritchie, rising star Jayden Schaper and recent South African Senior Open champion James Kingston. They will all be joining the international contingent from the European Challenge Tour.

And it’s to the local Sunshine Tour professionals that Stone says he’ll be looking to help get his game in top shape before he tees it up in the year’s second Major, the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in May.

“The golfers on the Sunshine Tour are incredibly good, and in my opinion we have some of the best golfers in the world playing here. So these next three weeks playing against our best will stand me in good stead before the PGA Championship in just over a month. It’s definitely something to get me ready for that,” said Stone.

The multiple European Tour winner is looking forward to competitive golf again following a frustrating period in which the travel issues surrounding Covid-19 have kept him at home.

“I’m just really looking forward to playing again. I haven’t played in a while because of a few visa issues and the travel restrictions around the world at the moment. I have played a lot of social golf and the game feels fantastic. I’m very eager to get some competitive golf going again.

“I think a lot of players this week will also be hungry to compete. These next three weeks are a definite opportunity for the Sunshine Tour professionals. We have three fantastic tournaments in a row at home and on golf courses the Sunshine Tour professionals are familiar with, and that’s a massive opportunity to earn a European Challenge Tour card. I’ve also never won on the European Challenge Tour, and that’s something I’ve always wanted to do.” – Michael Vlismas

Photo: Carl Fourie

A big 3 weeks of opportunity for SA pros

19th April 2021

A big 3 weeks of opportunity for SA pros

The Sunshine Tour returns to action next week with the first of three tournaments co-sanctioned with the European Challenge Tour, each of which offers the chance for a career-changing week for South African professionals.

The co-sanctioned series of tournaments tees off with the R3 million Limpopo Championship at Euphoria Golf and Lifestyle Estate from 22-25 April. This is followed by the R3 million Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open at the Royal Cape Golf Club from 29 April to 2 May, and then the R6 million Dimension Data Pro-Am at Fancourt from 6-9 May.

The past history of each of these tournaments is testament to the potential they have to launch the international careers of the competing Sunshine Tour professionals.

JC Ritchie returns as the defending champion in the Limpopo Championship. Ritchie is aiming for a record hat-trick of titles in this event after winning the inaugural tournament in 2019 and then defending in 2020. It played a major part in Ritchie finishing top of the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit in the 2019-20 season, and this in turn secured Ritchie an exemption into his first Major Championship – the 2020 US Open at Winged Foot Golf Club – and a place in the World Golf Championship-Workday Championship at The Concession Golf Club in Florida.

The Tour then travels to Cape Town for the R3 million Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open. This was where Brandon Stone claimed his breakthrough victory as a professional in 2015. A year later he won both the South African Open and the Alfred Dunhill Championship to finish top of the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit in 2016. He made his Major Championship debut that same year in both The Open and The PGA Championship, and he secured his place on the European Tour which led to further success when in 2018 he won a major Rolex Series event in the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open.

Fancourt will host the final stop on this run of co-sanctioned tournaments for the R6 million Dimension Data Pro-Am, one of the longest-running tournaments on the Sunshine Tour and with a history of great champions including Lee Westwood, Retief Goosen, Trevor Immelman, Louis Oosthuizen, Mark McNulty, Nick Price, George Coetzee, Branden Grace, and Paul Lawrie.

Last year, Christiaan Bezuidenhout won at Fancourt as he started his rise up the world rankings. Bezuidenhout ended 2020 with wins in the Alfred Dunhill Championship and the South African Open, and has now climbed to 38th on the Official World Golf Ranking.

These next three weeks on the Sunshine Tour could indeed open the door for South African golf’s next international star.


R3 million Limpopo Championship, Euphoria Golf and Lifestyle Estate : 22-25 April

R3 million Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open, Royal Cape Golf Club : 29 April – 2 May

R6 million Dimension Data Pro-Am, Fancourt : 6-9 May

Bain’s Whisky joins the Sunshine Tour with Cape Town Open title sponsorship

13th April 2021

Bain’s Whisky joins the Sunshine Tour with Cape Town Open title sponsorship

The Sunshine Tour today announced that Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky, one of the Distell Group’s leading and internationally awarded brands, will become the new title sponsor of the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open which will be played at the Royal Cape Golf Club in April.

Bain’s Whisky has for several years been a supporter of the Cape Town Open, which is co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and the European Challenge Tour.

“We’re delighted to join the Sunshine Tour as a supporter of a tournament that is very close to our hearts and aligns perfectly with our Bain’s brand. After all, what better synergy than bringing together Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky, which has been awarded the World’s Best Grain Whisky and is made right here in the Cape, and the Cape Town Open,” said Kavir Gangiah, Distell Group Media, Sponsorship and Events Lead for Southern Africa.

“Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky is a whisky distilled in the Cape and named after the Bainskloof Pass, which is an icon of the region. To associate with a tournament such as the Cape Town Open is the perfect expression of Bain’s as a locally distilled and internationally-awarded whisky, and for a tournament with an international field.”

This year’s Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open, set to be played at Royal Cape Golf Club from 29 April to 2 May and for a prize fund of R3 million, is the ninth edition of a tournament that has played a key role in the development of many Sunshine Tour professionals’ careers, most notably European Tour champion Brandon Stone who won his first Sunshine Tour title in the 2015 edition.

“We are so pleased to welcome Bain’s Whisky as the title sponsor of the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open,” said Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour.

“Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky prides itself as an innovative brand produced at Africa’s only commercial whisky distillery. Similarly, the Sunshine Tour prides itself on being a Proudly South African Tour and a breeding ground of champions under our banner of Greatness Begins Here. I think the two are a perfect fit.”

Dan Plato, the Executive Mayor of the City of Cape Town, said: “As a proud sponsor of the tournament for the last decade, the City of Cape Town is thrilled to welcome Bain’s Whisky on board for a sporting event that has become an integral feature of the City’s annual calendar. With the Mother City being one of the country’s popular golf tourism destinations, the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open represents so much of the uniqueness of the Cape province and we’re looking forward to showcasing this authentic natural beauty to an international audience.”

Dimension Data stands firm in support of Sunshine Tour and Sunshine Ladies Tour

9th April 2021

Dimension Data stands firm in support of Sunshine Tour and Sunshine Ladies Tour

The Sunshine Tour, Sunshine Ladies Tour and Dimension Data have announced that the longstanding Dimension Data Pro-Am will still go ahead as planned this May, but without the pro-am element in observance of the Coronavirus health protocols and current restrictions.

The Dimension Data Pro-Am features on both the Sunshine Tour and Sunshine Ladies Tour schedules, with the two tournaments played concurrently at Fancourt from 6-9 May.

News that the tournament, which is one of the longest standing on the Sunshine Tour dating back to 1996 and is co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and European Challenge Tour, will still be played for professionals on both the Sunshine Tour and Sunshine Ladies Tour has been welcomed as a major show of support of South African professional golf from Dimension Data.

“I would like to commend Dimension Data and thank Jeremy Ord for his unstinting support of the Sunshine Tour and the Sunshine Ladies Tour during this challenging time,” said Johann Rupert, Chairman of the Sunshine Tour.

“Jeremy and Dimension Data have long been loyal friends and true servants of the game of golf in South Africa, and this is an incredible decision in continuation of this support.”

Jeremy Ord, Chairman of Dimension Data, said the decision was a difficult one to make, but the right one in the current environment.

“The Dimension Data Pro-Am has established itself as not only a premier golf tournament, but also a gathering of friends as we’ve shared the fairways with sports stars, celebrities, professionals and our valued customers, partners and suppliers from around the world over the years. It is disappointing that as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic we cannot host all our valued amateur guests again this year, but we feel it is the prudent decision to make in the interests of everyone’s safety. However, we remain committed to the Sunshine Tour and the Sunshine Ladies Tour, and I am pleased that we can continue our support in this fashion.”

Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour, expressed his deep gratitude for the continued support from Dimension Data.

“I think this is an incredible gesture from Dimension Data to offer a solution in a very challenging time, and one which still gives our Sunshine Tour and Sunshine Ladies Tour professionals vital playing opportunities. I would like to thank Jeremy Ord and his team for their support, as well as our Executive Director Selwyn Nathan for his continued influence as we navigate this pandemic’s effect on golf. I also need to thank European Tour Chief Executive Officer Keith Pelley and the European Challenge Tour for their ongoing support of our South African swing of co-sanctioned tournaments.”

This year, the tournament will have a revised format for the Sunshine Tour and Sunshine Ladies Tour professionals.

The Sunshine Tour and Sunshine Ladies Tour fields will each be split and play the Outeniqua and Montagu courses at Fancourt on alternating days for the first and second rounds. Thereafter, the Sunshine Tour field will be cut to the top 60 and ties, and the Sunshine Ladies Tour field to the top 30 and ties. The Sunshine Ladies Tour will then play the final round of their 54-hole tournament at the Outeniqua on the Saturday, while the Sunshine Tour will play the final two rounds of their 72-hole tournament on the Montagu.

It’s April, and The Masters is back where it should be 4

6th April 2021

It’s April, and The Masters is back where it should be

Take a deep breath. It’s April, and they’re playing The Masters. That’s a big step back towards something normal in these crazy times.

Dustin Johnsons green jacket from five months ago hasn’t even had time to gather dust in the closet, and now were doing it all again in what is the shortest time frame between The Masters in its history.

South Africa will be represented by Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Dylan Frittelli and Christiaan Bezuidenhout.

And three-time Masters champion Gary Player will also be there in his role as Honorary Starter on Thursday morning alongside Jack Nicklaus and first-time Honorary Starter Lee Elder. Elder was the first Black professional to compete in The Masters in 1975. It will be a warm meeting between Player and Elder, as Player also invited Elder to compete in the 1971 PGA Championship in South Africa, which was one of the first major tournaments in South African golf to include both Black and White professionals.

Inside the ropes, Oosthuizen makes his 13th appearance in The Masters and may feel he still has unfinished business following his playoff defeat to Bubba Watson in 2012.

Schwartzel is back as the 2011 champion, which made him only the third South African after Player and Trevor Immelman to slip on a green jacket.

Frittelli returns only five months after he challenged for a maiden Major title at Augusta National Golf Club before finishing tied fifth last November.

And Bezuidenhout makes his second appearance in The Masters after a debut in November that saw him finish a solid 38th.

But the key to this years Masters and the likely contenders lies in its date. April.

A November Masters was unique in every sense, but most importantly in the way the Augusta National Golf Club played that week. It was a lot softer than it will be now in April.

But none of that really matters. All that matters is it’s April, the azaleas are in bloom, and a green jacket is up for grabs.

So take a deep breath.

It’s Masters week. – Michael Vlismas