SHARE ON: [addtoany buttons='facebook,twitter,email']
Auto Draft 115

30th September 2021

Strydom takes the lead in tough conditions at Humewood

GQEBERHA, Eastern Cape – Tristen Strydom, the 24-year-old from Pretoria Country Club, has been able to supplement his talent with confidence from a fine season and astute course-management, and the benefits showed as he claimed the lead after the first round of the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series event at Humewood Golf Club on Thursday.

In incredibly tough conditions of strong wind and then rain, Strydom fired a superb four-under-par 68 to lead by one stroke from Richard Joubert.

The weather had already turned foul in Gqeberha on the eve of the tournament, so the golfers were expecting the worst when they teed it up at the famous old links course, that was especially wind-blown on Thursday.

Strydom and Joubert were together in the first group off and Strydom did not make a good start, missing a short putt for bogey on the first. But, remarkably, it was to be his only dropped shot on the day as he showed great composure to refuse to get flustered.

“We knew on Wednesday already that it was going to be pretty bad weather, so I was mentally prepared and just tried to enjoy it as much as possible, just do the best you can. Normally when you’re first out there is less wind, but today it was pumping from the early hours. It was a three or four club wind the whole day, I was hitting eight-irons 110 metres.

“I actually hit two great shots on the first, chipped but then two-putted because I missed a really short putt. But in conditions like this you can’t get upset by a bogey on the first hole otherwise you’re just going to make it a much longer day, which doesn’t help,” Strydom said.

The in-form Strydom, 10th on the Order of Merit, turned in one-under with birdies on the par-four fourth and par-five seventh hole, before finding another gear on the back nine as he collected three birdies, which he says were products of his good course-management.

“Richard Joubert was playing really nicely as well so we pushed each other. It was a really solid round, a good day at the office. I didn’t really hit anything wayward, I made sure I was in good positions and missed on the right sides. All-in-all it was a well-managed round. And luckily I got out dry because it only started raining on my last hole!” Strydom said.

Joubert, coming off three successive missed cuts, was one over through nine holes, but finished in scintillating fashion with three birdies and an eagle, on the 17th, in his last six holes.

Botswana’s Stuart Smith celebrated his country’s Independence Day by shooting a two-under 70 that gave him third place on his own, while James Kamte and Jake Redman were the only other golfers under-par after positing 71s.

SHARE ON: [addtoany buttons='facebook,twitter,email']
Dream come true as Thimba Jnr. tees off on St Andrews’ Old Course

Dream come true as Thimba Jnr. tees off on St Andrews’ Old Course

ST ANDREWS, Scotland (30 September 2021) – In 2010, Sunshine Tour professional Toto Thimba Jnr. watched Louis Oosthuizen stride to victory in The Open on the Old Course. He watched him walk over the famous Swilcan Burn bridge on his way up 18. And he’ll never forget how Oosthuizen spoke of Nelson Mandela in his victory speech.

Those memories came flooding back to Thimba Jnr. as he walked the same Old Course on Wednesday and stood on that same famous little stone bridge in preparation for his debut in this week’s prestigious Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

Thimba Jnr. secured his place in this illustrious field by virtue of his finish on the 2019-2020 Sunshine Tour Money List. And he admits it’s a dream come true to be playing in a European Tour event that has defined itself as the game’s ultimate celebration of links golf as it is played on the three iconic links courses of the Old Course, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.

“It reminds you that great things can happen in this game,” said Thimba Jnr.

“It’s my first time playing the Old Course. It’s such a privilege and an honour to be playing here. It’s an amazing feeling.”

And he’ll carry with him the inspiration of watching Oosthuizen here in 2010.

“Just watching Louis walk over that bridge with his caddie Zack, and then his winning speech about Nelson Mandela, was phenomenal. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.”

True links golf is a totally new experience for Thimba Jnr. and one he says he’s going to relish this week.

“Links golf is certainly different, but I’ll just try and play my best golf this week. I’m trying not to put pressure on myself because just being here is a privilege. I’m playing with Daniel van Tonder for the first two rounds, which is good. It helps you relax when you’re playing with your homeboy. So I’m just looking forward to playing the best golf I can this week.”


Caption: Sunshine Tour professional Toto Thimba Jnr. (left) and his caddie, Colin, stop for the traditional photo on the famous Swilcan Burn bridge on the Old Course during his practice round before making his debut in this week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in St Andrews. Credit: Supplied.

SHARE ON: [addtoany buttons='facebook,twitter,email']
Auto Draft 114

Hess hoping to capitalise on tough conditions at Vodacom Origins

GQEBERHA, Eastern Cape – The wind that has gusted through Humewood Golf Cub this week was accompanied by soaking rain on Wednesday to make for tough conditions in the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series Pro-Am, but at least one golfer – Jacquin Hess – was able to apply the old Monty Python maxim and always look on the bright side.

“The weather forecast is not looking good and everyone is complaining about it, but I’m actually smiling inside,” Hess said. “I prefer the conditions to be tough, it opens the field up, and most of my best finishes have been on the tough tracks. The more the wind blows, the better for me. Coming from Robertson, there’s always a three-club wind there, and I actually went home to practice a bit.

“This course is always good, I love the place and I was in the mix the last time I was here, so I have a good vibe. You have to play different shots here, keep it low and under the wind. But I’m in a good space mentally, it’s going to be difficult for everyone and sometimes you don’t realise that,” Hess said.

The 30-year-old has missed his last two cuts – at the Vodacom Origins of Golf Mount Edgecombe and the Sunshine Tour Invitational earlier in September – but he is optimistic about the next few weeks on tour because the events will be played on tough courses and he feels like he is hitting it straight and waiting to capitalise score-wise.

“My game is turning in the right direction and I’ve just got to give myself opportunities, take it one shot at a time. The next five weeks should suit my game because we have tournaments here at Humewood and places like the Wild Coast and Sun City, where I normally play well. You need to hit it straight and low at these places, which I’m doing, and I putted really well in the Pro-Am, even in the difficult wind.

“You need to have that sort of even temperament, like cricketers Jacques Kallis or Hashim Amla. You just need to go with the conditions. You need to be the calmest guy on the course,” Hess said.

SHARE ON: [addtoany buttons='facebook,twitter,email']
Auto Draft 113

29th September 2021

Basson ready to battle windy conditions at Humewood

GQEBERHA, Eastern Cape – Christiaan Basson has won before in the strong winds of the Eastern Cape in the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series, claiming the St Francis Links title in 2015, and the 39-year-old is hoping this week’s event at Humewood Golf Club will be the one in which he “makes it count” and finally throws off the momentum-stopping effects of the Covid pandemic on his career.

Basson had enjoyed his best finish since 2011 on the Sunshine Tour order of merit, inside the top-20 in 2019/20 before Covid hit, and he hasn’t quite been able to recapture the same consistency in the last two seasons. He finished 38th in 2020/21 and is currently 43rd in the standings for this season.

The arrival of twins for Basson and his wife last year lessened the blow of his career being disrupted, but he is now itching to get back into contention and try and claim his fifth Sunshine Tour title.

“Yes, Covid definitely disrupted my golf, but it came at a good time for me to help my wife because we had twins just before the virus arrived. So they were in nappies through Covid and it was nice to have that family time together. But in terms of golf it put a bit of a stop on my progress and I haven’t really done well after Covid.

“I’m positive about my game, it’s trending in the right direction, but I’m also keen to make one or two tournaments really count now,” Basson said.

Born in Strand, raised in Cape Town and now living there as a member of Metropolitan Golf Club, Basson is obviously at home in the strong winds that are expected to buffet the Humewood seaside links with increasing ferocity when the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series tees off on Thursday.

“I’m happy with these conditions and I think it suits my game. It’s been a while since I’ve played in such a strong wind though. You know how to do things in conditions like this, but you still need to get sharp beforehand. You can’t really practise for wind when there is no wind.

“But I like the conditions and the challenge. You’ve just got to be solid around here and keep the big mistakes off your card. You have to accept that you’re going to make one or two bogeys, especially into the wind,” Basson said.

It is a problem that Basson is well-equipped to solve. He has the knowledge of winning at the St Francis Bay Links 100km west of Humewood and, now in his 15thseason on the Sunshine Tour, he has plenty of experience of coastal conditions.

SHARE ON: [addtoany buttons='facebook,twitter,email']
Sunshine Tour and Vodacom Origins support Gqeberha community

28th September 2021

Sunshine Tour and Vodacom Origins support Gqeberha community

GQEBERHA, Eastern Cape – The Sunshine Tour travels to the famous Humewood links this week for the next leg on the 2021 Vodacom Origins of Golf Series, and with a clear focus to make a difference outside the ropes and off the fairways in the local community.

Since it first teed off in 2004, the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series has included a strong charity focus at every tournament. Over the years this has included working with the young golfers of the South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB) and giving them access to coaching clinics by the Tour’s professionals at the various tournaments, to supporting anti-bullying campaigns and raising funds for various children’s charities.

This week, the official pro-am of the Humewood tournament is raising funds for the Maro Foundation, which was started in 2014 by Pamela Mabini. The pro-am dinner alone raised a significant amount of funding for the foundation.

Mabini, a social and gender activist from Kwazakhele, uses her corporate network to distribute food, blankets, clothes, shoes and hygiene products to the homeless. She has also opened two facilities in Johannesburg for the rehoming of mentally handicapped, disabled or HIV-positive children who have been abandoned by their families.

According to Tshego Malinga, Vodacom’s executive head of department for the Customer Business Unit Eastern Region, this ties in perfectly with their desire to ensure the series makes an impact in the communities where it is played.

“We have the ability to make sure profit meets purpose and I am a firm believer that the two are never mutually exclusive. At the centre of everything we do at Vodacom is the desire to enable our customers to live out their purpose. We do that by connecting them in an environment in which they can express their passions and aspirations.

“But it’s also important for Vodacom to be part of the development of South Africa as a whole, and sport plays a very important part in the development of the nation. We want to help people explore their talent and hopefully some of them can go on to become international icons. We also want to be helpful to the community and the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series has really assisted in the funding of many charities,” Malinga says.

“We want to help those who have less access to things we might take for granted. We need a consciousness of the environment we operate in. So it’s special for us to be able to host this event and help the Maro Foundation in these times of Covid and all the challenges around that.”

SHARE ON: [addtoany buttons='facebook,twitter,email']
Vodacom Origins of Golf gains Momentum

27th September 2021

Vodacom Origins of Golf gains Momentum

GQEBERHA, Eastern Cape – Gary Player always says there is no substitute for personal contact. It’s a formula that has also been the backbone of the highly successful Vodacom Origins of Golf Series for 17 years now, which has set a benchmark for sponsor interaction with the Sunshine Tour’s professionals.

And it’s a winning formula other Sunshine Tour sponsors are also buying into.

As the Vodacom Origins of Golf travels to the famous Humewood links this week for the fourth tournament on this year’s series, it does so with a new partner in Momentum Metropolitan. And Carel Bosman, the financial services company’s Head of Sponsorships and Events, has been delighted with how well their involvement is going.

“We only recently entered the Vodacom Origins of Golf fold and it really is the ideal sporting platform. We’re already starting to engage and build connectivity with so many people. The series is pretty unique in that you have amateurs playing with the professionals and it has been incredibly positive for us being involved from the start of the season.

“We’ve been sending different internal stakeholders from our various business units to play in the events, and it has been a very positive experience for us as a corporate. We will certainly be looking to do more as Vodacom and Sunshine Tour Commissioner Thomas Abt and the Sunshine Tour are putting together some stunning properties. The Vodacom Origins of Golf Series has been going for so long, since 2004, and we feel privileged to be involved.”

Momentum’s investment in cricket, especially the women’s game, has been one of the success stories of the South African sports industry space, and Bosman had nothing but praise for Vodacom’s tremendous achievements with the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series.

“The Vodacom Origins of Golf Series has been a success for so long that you simply have to acknowledge what Vodacom have done. It’s been wonderful to meet their team at a regional level and sport really needs sponsors to do these sorts of things. Vodacom have obviously seen value in their strategy to stay involved for so long. What they have done has been incredible and hats off to them, long may it continue,” Bosman said.

SHARE ON: [addtoany buttons='facebook,twitter,email']
Auto Draft 112

18th September 2021

Albertse bags first win on Sunshine Tour

DURBAN, KwaZulu-Natal – Louis Albertse handled the pressure of chasing down his first Sunshine Tour title like a real professional on Saturday as he won the third leg of the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series at Mount Edgecombe Country Club Estate.

The 25-year-old began the final round with a share of the lead, and produced an impressive four-under-par 66 to finish on nine-under-par for the tournament and clinch victory by one stroke over CJ du Plessis (65).

But, as well as Albertse played, a bogey on the par-four 16th left him needing pars on the tricky last two holes of The Woods course. Albertse negotiated the elevation changes and water bordering the 18th green with aplomb.

“There are so many emotions, but it feels really good to have my first Sunshine Tour title. It’s never easy to win and the last nine holes when you’re going for your first win is particularly tough, but I tried hard to stay in the moment. The bogey on 16 was a bit unsettling, but I knew I was still 100% in it. I had been playing nicely the whole day and all I could do was give it my best.

“I’ve been in Category 9 since I started on tour and I’ve worked really hard to get out of it, I always felt I was good enough to win. Now there are lots of things to look forward to, getting into big events now without any worries. I saw a couple of scoreboards on the way in and I knew CJ was playing well, which was a good thing in a sense because I knew I had to keep pushing and not play defensively,” Albertse said after his wire-to-wire win, having shared the lead with veteran Brazilian Adilson da Silva after the first two rounds.

Albertse, who hails from Dundee in Northern KwaZulu-Natal, went out in two-under-par 33 and then made an ideal start to the back nine with a lengthy birdie putt on the 339-yard par-four 10th hole.

“I made a few good par-saves at the beginning but unfortunately took a six on the second par-five. But I’ve been putting really well and the birdie on 10 was a massive bonus, that just makes sure you get into the right gear going into the downwind holes. I also made a really good save on 13 and then birdies on 14 and 15 [another long putt] kept the momentum going,” Albertse said.

Du Plessis’ five-under-par 65 started inauspiciously with a bogey at the first hole, but thereafter he did not drop a shot, collecting five birdies including four in five holes from the sixth. It is the Irene Country Club golfer’s fourth runners-up finish and he is yet to win a professional tournament.

Adilson da Silva was one shot off the lead when he made the turn, but returned to the clubhouse in level-par to finish on six-under-par, two behind Du Plessis and in the tie for third with Riekus Nortje and Deon Germishuys.

SHARE ON: [addtoany buttons='facebook,twitter,email']
Albertse and Da Silva still tied at the top

17th September 2021

Albertse and Da Silva still tied at the top

DURBAN, KwaZulu-Natal – For the second day in a row Louis Albertse found himself at the top of the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series leaderboard alongside Adilson da Silva as they go into the final round of this Sunshine Tour event at Mount Edgecombe Country Club.

Albertse teed off in the afternoon on Friday and the 25-year-old from Dundee once again matched the veteran Da Silva all the way. The pair both shot one-under-par 69s in blustery conditions to go to five-under for the tournament, one stroke ahead of Ockie Strydom.

Although the rain that was an irritation on the first day had disappeared, there were gusty winds and rather fresh temperatures to contend with on Friday.

But Albertse, who is now in his fourth season on tour, felt at home, not only in the tricky weather but also being right in the mix at the top of the leaderboard.

“Conditions were not easy but I felt I handled them very well. In these conditions there are always going to be mistakes, but I’m happy that I’ve ended the day in a good position. There was no rain this afternoon, but the wind was definitely a factor. In my last six or seven holes it really picked up and it was a bit cold as well.

“At times the wind meant a difference of three or four clubs, and at this place when that happens then anything under par is good. I will approach the final round exactly the same. I’m playing nicely and there’s no need to change anything. Both my bogeys today were putting errors on the par fives, which was really surprising because I’ve been putting well. I’ve played with Adilson before and he’s a really nice guy,” Albertse said.

With finishes of T10th, third (a career-best finish at the SunBet Time Square Challenge at Wingate Park), T42nd and T12th since the beginning of August, Albertse has risen to 21st on the Money List. He is certainly playing with more consistency now, which he puts down to the work he has done with strength and conditioning coach Jacques Swarts.

“I think my recent success is a factor of a lot of things coming right at a similar time. But with Jacques Swarts I’ve been working really hard in the gym for the last couple of years and since that I’ve become a lot more consistent because my body feels good throughout a tournament. It’s the small things added together which have led to more consistency,” Albertse said.

Strydom, a winner of the Sishen Vodacom Origins of Golf Series in 2019, closed to within a shot of the leaders with his two-under-par 68 on Friday, which featured a double-bogey six on the 11th hole and two other dropped shots, which were nullified by three birdies on each loop.

CJ du Plessis made a strong move into a tie for fourth on three-under-par with his 67, with experienced golfers Lyle Rowe, Anton Haig, Trevor Fisher Jnr and Hennie Otto lurking with intent on two-under-par with several other golfers.

SHARE ON: [addtoany buttons='facebook,twitter,email']
Bezuidenhout back to defend Alfred Dunhill Championship title

Bezuidenhout back to defend Alfred Dunhill Championship title

Christiaan Bezuidenhout will return to defend his Alfred Dunhill Championship title when the Sunshine Tour and European Tour co-sanctioned tournament is played at Leopard Creek Country Club from 9-12 December.

The championship will abide by all South African government health protocols concerning COVID-19 and comply with any future government announcements concerning this.

Bezuidenhout claimed a four-stroke victory at Leopard Creek last year to achieve what he said was a career goal of winning the Alfred Dunhill Championship.

“I’ve always wanted to win this tournament. Leopard Creek has always been a special place for me,” he said.

Bezuidenhout will be seeking to become only the third golfer in the history of the Alfred Dunhill Championship to successfully defend his title following Pablo Martin in 2009 and 2010, and Charl Schwartzel in 2012 and 2013.

Bezuidenhout is expected to lead a strong field of South Africans seeking to maintain their hold on this prestigious title, with local professionals having won seven of the past nine championships.

The unique setting of the golf course on the banks of the Crocodile River and overlooking the Kruger National Park, one of the world’s most iconic game reserves, makes the Alfred Dunhill Championship one of the flagship events on the European Tour calendar with a strong following amongst the European stars.

“For 21 years the Alfred Dunhill Championship has distinguished itself as a championship that celebrates world-class golf in a peerless location, and we are privileged to continue to do so with the support of the Sunshine Tour and European Tour, the professionals and the officials, and the volunteers and staff who make this event so unique,” said Guy Sanan, Richemont.

With his victory in 2020, Bezuidenhout joined an illustrious list of past Alfred Dunhill Championship winners including Ernie Els, Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace.

“The Alfred Dunhill Championship is one of the Sunshine Tour’s flagship tournaments which has consistently drawn some of the best golfers in the game, including Major winners, former world number ones, and Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup stars. We are extremely grateful to have Alfred Dunhill and our Sunshine Tour Chairman, Johann Rupert, as such longstanding supporters of professional golf in South Africa,” said Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour.

Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: “Alfred Dunhill and the Alfred Dunhill Championship have a long and proud history on the European Tour through the leadership, vision and commitment of Johann Rupert and everyone involved with the Sunshine Tour. This, combined with the unique location of the truly outstanding Leopard Creek golf course, makes this one of the annual highlights on the schedule for our members.”

SHARE ON: [addtoany buttons='facebook,twitter,email']
Da Silva in the driving seat at Vodacom Origins

16th September 2021

Da Silva in the driving seat at Vodacom Origins

DURBAN, KwaZulu-Natal – Brazilian Adilson da Silva has been dogged lately by an inconsistent putter and a struggle to maintain focus on the course, but he put it all together in fine style on Thursday as he claimed a share of the lead after the first round of the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series event at Mount Edgecombe Country Club Estate.

Da Silva opened the third leg of this season’s Vodacom Origins of Golf Series with a polished four-under-par 66, sharing the lead with Dundee Golf Club’s Louis Albertse.

The 49-year-old Da Silva started at the 10th on Mount Edgecombe’s The Woods course and moved to two-under with back-to-back birdies on the par-three 12th and par-four 13th.

There was a bit of a wobble though when he bogeyed the 18th and second holes, sandwiching a birdie on the par-four first, but Da Silva said his efforts to stay mentally focused have started paying off as he picked up three more birdies, returning to the clubhouse in 32 strokes.

Playing in the rain, it was easy to get frustrated and allow a promising round to fritter away, but the experienced Da Silva regrouped brilliantly.

“With all the breaks between tournaments due to Covid, I was really struggling to concentrate on the course, but playing events now every couple of weeks has helped a lot. I’ve pushed myself to focus my mind on the target and not worry so much about my swing. Otherwise it’s a strange feeling of not really being there. So I’m trying to visualise, put more emphasis on the shot, keep my mind focused on the present.

“I missed a couple of putts and then made silly bogeys on 18 and two – you’re getting wet and it’s easy to get frustrated. But I just told myself to hang in there, I hit most of the fairways and greens after that and made some key putts.

“My putting has been on and off lately, which is so frustrating when you’re hitting the ball well but you feel like you’re not playing well because you can’t make a score. But today was better – 28 putts and I can feel something building,” Da Silva said.

The 13-time Sunshine Tour winner also shared the lead after the first round of his previous event, the Sunshine Tour Invitational at Centurion Country Club two weeks ago, before finishing in a tie for 12th after closing with a pair of 71s. This time, with his putter playing along, Da Silva is hoping to maintain his first-round momentum. But he warns “You can’t just run after it here, this is a course that gives you nothing.”

Chasing Da Silva and Albertse, who coincidentally also finished in a tie for 12th at Centurion, are Siyanda Mwandla and Riekus Nortje, who shot 67s on Thursday.

Eleven golfers are two shots back on two-under-par, including Alex Haindl, winner of the second leg of the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series at Sishen at the end of last month, Ockie Strydom, Lyle Rowe, Trevor Fisher Jnr and Anton Haig.