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SA Open back at Sun City and as part of new Sunshine Tour and European Tour partnership

16th September 2021

SA Open back at Sun City and as part of new Sunshine Tour and European Tour partnership

The South African Open Championship will return to the Gary Player Country Club from 2-5 December 2021 with a prize fund of US$1.5 million and with Christiaan Bezuidenhout back to defend his title.

Bezuidenhout, fresh from securing his PGA Tour card, will be joined at Sun City by, amongst others, fellow PGA Tour campaigner Dylan Frittelli. The field will also include European Tour champions Dean Burmester, Justin Harding and George Coetzee, while there is expectation of support from more of South Africa’s leading international professionals.

The 2021 South African Open forms part of the Sunshine Tour and European Tour’s new landmark partnership concluded in July which guarantees the South African Open as a co-sanctioned tournament until 2025.

The ongoing COVID-19 restrictions mean the Nedbank Golf Challenge can again not be played this year, and with Nedbank and Sun International agreeing to continue their support of the South African Open. The tournament will continue to abide by all South African government health protocols concerning COVID-19 and comply with any future government announcements concerning this.

“We are so excited to have both Nedbank and Sun International, two longstanding supporters of the Sunshine Tour, with us as we begin this incredible new chapter with the European Tour. They have always been important in our quest to create the best opportunities for South African professionals. As our national Open, the South African Open has also always represented a key moment of great opportunity for South African golfers to take their careers to the next level, and now even more so,” said Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour.

Grant Hepburn, CEO of GolfRSA, also expressed his delight at what this new partnership brings to the national Open.

“GolfRSA and the South African Golf Association, who are custodians of the South African Open, are extremely proud of the legacy of the South African Open and the fact that it continues to be seen as one of world golf’s most historic tournaments.”

Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: “The South African Open has been central to the longstanding partnership between the European Tour and Sunshine Tour for over a quarter of a century now. It’s wonderful that as we now grow this partnership, we do so with the South African Open continuing to also grow its influence and build on its already proud legacy on both our tours.”

Given that COVID-19 regulations have once again prevented the playing of ‘Africa’s Major’ – the Nedbank Golf Challenge – Nedbank and Sun International have again agreed to support the South African Open as it enters this new era of increased opportunity for professionals from South Africa and Europe.

“In this difficult environment for all players and golf fans, Nedbank is proud to have played its part in being the stimulus that helps to keep South African golf moving forward. While ‘Africa’s Major’, in the form of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, waits to be able to make its return at Sun City, the South African Open gives us an opportunity to continue our longstanding support of golf in this country, and now even more so with this new phase that the national Open is entering,” said Mike Brown, Chief Executive of Nedbank.

Anthony Leeming, Chief Executive of Sun International, said: “It is a privilege for us to host the South African Open and to once again welcome back both the European Tour and Sunshine Tour to Sun City and the Gary Player Country Club. This golf course has witnessed some of the most historic moments in the game as the home of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, and we’re proud to be able to add this historic moment in South African Open history to that list.”

 

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Bremner hopes laid-back fun on the course will lead to Vodacom Origins win

Bremner hopes laid-back fun on the course will lead to Vodacom Origins win

DURBAN, KwaZulu-Natal – A golfer who has missed a few cuts never sleeps easy before a tournament, but Merrick Bremner is determined to ensure he enjoys himself when he tees it up in this week’s Vodacom Origins of Golf Mount Edgecombe tournament, starting on Thursday.

Bremner, a seven-time winner on the Sunshine Tour and a stalwart of the circuit since 2006/7, is currently 83rd on the Money List after a fairly difficult winter has seen him miss the last three cuts. But the 35-year-old is adamant that his fortunes will only turn if he is having fun out on course and not pushing and grinding too hard.

“I’m hoping to have a lot of fun. Coming from the high pace, quick living of Gauteng, to a very laid-back place like Mount Edgecombe is what I’m looking for. I know it’s not as easy as just saying ‘I’m going to have fun’ and then you play well otherwise I would have a lot more good performances.

“But if you’re not enjoying yourself then you definitely won’t be able to perform at your best, so that’s my focus – just go out there and have some fun. I just remember that life could be worse, I could have a 9-to-5 job, so I am extremely blessed to be playing golf for a living. The key to anyone’s success is that they are enjoying what they do,” Bremner said.

Bremner was born in Durban and feels at home on the North Coast, even though he grew up on the Highveld.

“It’s excellent to be back down here. I’ve always liked the coastal courses and I’ve had a bit of success at Mount Edgecombe Country Club Estate. I like the layout, I love the people and it just feels lekker here – it’s a bit warmer, everything is greener and there’s more grass on the fairways than up in Gauteng right now. So maybe somewhere in there it does feel a bit like home,” Bremner said.

Known as one of the biggest hitters on our, the other excellent news for Bremner is that, judging by his third-place finish in the pro-am, the hard work he has done on his putting is starting to pay off.

“All aspects of your game need to fire around here, but I have been putting in some proper putting work and I seem to be making some good progress. So I am really looking forward to this tournament,” Bremner said.

-ENDS-

 

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Bosch uses golf to take his mind off rugby

15th September 2021

Bosch uses golf to take his mind off rugby

DURBAN, KwaZulu-Natal – Curwin Bosch found the perfect way to soothe the pain of the Sharks’ Carling Currie Cup Final defeat against the Vodacom Bulls when he swapped his kicking boots for golf clubs and played in the official pro-am of this week’s Vodacom Origins of Golf tournament at Mount Edgecombe Country Club.

In a brief break between the final and then flying off to Europe for the Vodacom United Rugby Championship, Bosch says he thoroughly enjoyed the time he could spend inside the ropes with the Sunshine Tour professionals.

“It’s really nice to have some off-time and be able to do what I love doing in my spare time – I play a lot of golf. It was a really nice experience to mingle with the pros and I didn’t play too badly either. Fortunately Mount Edgecombe is my home course and I got one birdie. Overall I really enjoyed it,” the six-handicapper said.

Being accustomed to lining up pressure kicks at goal, Bosch should be used to the horrible nerves that can come with having to make clutch putts. But the lanky 24-year-old says putting is not as challenging for him.

“I think the mental side comes into it more with my driving and long irons, but putting is actually a bit easier for me. I do hit my drives a long way, but not often as straight as my kicking,” said Bosch.

With rugby now becoming an all-year pursuit, Bosch said he was also interested to see how the Sunshine Tour professionals, many of whom have to grind it out week-to-week, approach the game. Work ethic is one thing that stands out for the Springbok.

“It’s nice to see how the pros go about it. That’s the fantastic part, seeing how they go about things on the course. You see how much thinking is done before every shot and talking to them was a great experience. The hard work, the many hours they put in to hone their game, you have to admire them. I have a better understanding of the things they go through now,” Bosch said.

The 54-hole professional tournament tees off on Thursday at Mount Edgecombe’s The Woods course.

 

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Stone’s rock-solid advice for young pros chasing Vodacom Origins glory

14th September 2021

Stone’s rock-solid advice for young pros chasing Vodacom Origins glory

DURBAN, KwaZulu-Natal – Kevin Stone’s former status as a Sunshine Tour professional and a past winner on the Vodacom Origins of Golf series certainly makes him qualified to give advice on what it will take to win this week’s Vodacom Origins of Golf tournament at Mount Edgecombe Country Club. And his current status as the Director of Golf at Mount Edgecombe puts him very much in the highly qualified category.

The Sunshine Tour’s finest will take on Mount Edgecombe’s The Woods course when this 54-hole Vodacom Origins of Golf event tees off on Thursday.

And Stone has a word of advice for them.

“The pros are going to need to drive it straight. We’ll maybe just speed up the greens a bit. They are normally between 9 and 9.5 and we’ll probably go up to 10.5 for the tournament. We expect some rain to slow it up as well, but if the wind gets up then the greens will be very tricky.

“But on the par fives, they can get on easily in two because they all just bang it 300 yards these days. Watching them makes me feel like I’ve never played this course before – it’s nice to be young,” said Stone.

It’s a measure of how long this Vodacom Origins of Golf series has been supporting the Sunshine Tour that the 55-year-old Stone, who has since retired from touring golf, won on the series in 2006. And his son, Brandon, now a successful European Tour campaigner, was still a young amateur caddying for his dad back then.

“I stopped playing professional golf in 1998 when I went into the club industry, and just played part-time. And, honestly, I’m not that keen to race out there and play now. My wife Desiree is the CEO of Mount Edgecombe Estate and Country Club, and initially I came and helped out when Micky Hough resigned. But then they asked me to stay, and starting in December last year, I am now the Director of Golf.”

Stone and his team were only too willing to help out when the Sunshine Tour had to unfortunately shift the tournament from Durban Country Club at late notice because of unforeseen circumstances.

“Normally we have six-to-nine months to prepare for a tournament, and when Desiree called me into her office last Friday I thought I was going to get fired. Instead she asked me if we can host the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series. Fortunately I like to keep the course to tour standard week in, week out, so the members can enjoy that sort of quality.”

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Kruyswijk breaks drought with Sunshine Tour Invitational win

10th September 2021

Kruyswijk breaks drought with Sunshine Tour Invitational win

Jacques Kruyswijk was relieved to finally end a five-year win drought and claim his second Sunshine Tour title in the Sunshine Tour Invitational at Centurion Country Club on Friday.

Kruyswijk closed with a 67, and then watched as Albert Venter, tied for the lead with him on 18 under par, bogeyed the last to hand him the title.

Venter, who signed for a final round of 71, shared second place with Michael Palmer, who posted a 66, on 17 under par. Jaco van Zyl was next best on 16 under par with a closing 70.

“It’s great to finally get it done, and even more special to do so at my home course,” said Kruyswijk, who last won in the 2016 Lions of Africa Cape Town Open but who since has had his resolve tested as he’s tried to get back into the winner’s circle.

“This is the result of all the hard work I’ve put in over the last couple of years. You know, to be winless since 2016 was a big monkey on my back, and I’m so glad to finally be rid of that. I’ve got a fantastic team around me who have supported me since day one, and that’s made the difference for me. I’ve grown a lot in the last couple of years and I’ve learnt so much.”

Kruyswijk was three shots off the lead of Venter going into the final round. But more importantly for him was that his second round of 64 had enabled him to play his way into the final threeball for Friday.

“I wanted to play in the final threeball. That was really important for me because I knew I could then put pressure on the guys leading. I went into match play mode against them in the final round, and I’m grateful to have come out on top.”

The timing couldn’t be better for Kruyswijk. On Sunday he flies to The Netherlands for the European Tour’s Dutch Open, and to begin a lengthy stretch of tournaments overseas. – Michael Vlismas

Photo: Tyrone Winfield/Sunshine Tour

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Jaguar Land Rover drives their support of Sunshine Tour

Jaguar Land Rover drives their support of Sunshine Tour

The Sunshine Tour is proud to announce a new partnership with Jaguar Land Rover South Africa in conjunction with Jaguar Land Rover Centurion, as the official vehicle partner, that will take South African professional golf to the next level in the years ahead.

As part of their commitment to the Sunshine Tour, Jaguar Land Rover will be awarding vehicles to:

  • The leading Sunshine Tour professional on the 2020-2021 Sunshine Tour Money List, who participated in at least 3 more tournaments than the total number of co-sanctioned tournaments in the season.
  • The leading Sunshine Tour professional on the 2021-2022 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit, who participates in at least 3 more tournaments than the total number of co-sanctioned tournaments in the season.
  • The Sunshine Tour Rookie of the Year for the 2021-2022 Sunshine Tour season.
  • The Sunshine Tour professional holding the lowest stroke average for the 2021-2022 Sunshine Tour season.

The partnership will run from the current Sunshine Tour season, up until March 2023.

“We are delighted to be able to show our support for the Sunshine Tour in these challenging times and by supporting South Africa’s top professionals,” said Nigel Clarke, Sales Operations Director, Jaguar Land Rover South Africa and sub-Sahara Africa.

“Jaguar Land Rover Centurion will ensure that when it comes to arriving at tournaments safely, the winning professionals will benefit from our Peace-of-Mind Promise that will put them in the best position to compete. Our customers have the highest expectations for the vehicles they drive and we are privileged to meet these for them. The Sunshine Tour’s own commitment to excellence and professionalism makes this a perfect partnership,” added Colin Lazarus, Jaguar Land Rover Centurion.

Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour, said: “Jaguar Land Rover epitomises excellence and quality and we are proud to be able to associate with such a globally-respected brand. The golfer who wins in each of the selected categories has shown an equal level of excellence over a sustained period of time throughout the season, and a vehicle of this quality will be a fitting reward for their hard work and dedication.”

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Venter hits the front in Centurion

9th September 2021

Venter hits the front in Centurion

When the swing changes he’s been working on finally fell into place for Albert Venter, they did so with a glorious 62 that has put him top of the leaderboard going into Friday’s final round of the Sunshine Tour Invitational at Centurion Country Club.

Venter’s round of 12 birdies lifted him to 16 under par through 36 holes of this 54-hole tournament. There was a double bogey on his card, but that will hardly trouble him as he takes a two-stroke lead into a final day where he’s chasing his maiden victory on the Sunshine Tour.

“I’ve been doing a lot of good work with my coach and making a few swing changes there. It’s just been a learning curve for me to be able to take that into tournaments. Today that happened and everything just fell into place,” said Venter.

His coach is none other than Grant Veenstra, who has developed a huge following on Tour as a man helping some of South Africa’s finest professionals reach their full potential.

“Grant has been on the Sunshine Tour and he knows what it takes to play good golf out here. He explains things with a focus on performance and not just on statistics,” said Venter, who hit both the performance and the right numbers on Thursday.

“It was just a decent ball striking day. I also gave myself a lot of chances on the greens. But giving yourself chances is one thing, and actually converting them is the key. My putting is pretty decent at the moment and I feel like if I give myself opportunities I’ll make the putt.”

His confidence with the putter was clear with his 30-footer for birdie on the fifth hole and then a key par from the fringe of the green on 16 and a birdie on 17, also from the fringe.

“I stuck to my gameplan very nicely. My first round 66 was good, but it felt like I could’ve done better. So I’m really pleased.”

Venter will have the experience Jaco van Zyl as his nearest challenger on Friday. Van Zyl posted his second consecutive 65 to climb to 14 under par overall. And Jacques Kruyswijk is currently third on 13 under following a second round of 64.

Venter certainly knows what it’s like to contend and win, having already done so on the Big Easy Tour. A finish of fourth in the recent SunBet Challenge hosted by Time Square also took him a step closer to winning on the Sunshine Tour, which is his next goal.

“I’ve got a great opportunity to do that. The standard on the Sunshine Tour is very good, but I’m not going to focus on who I need to beat. I just want to beat the golf course on the day, and hopefully that’s good enough to win. My main goal as an amateur was to get onto the Sunshine Tour, because as they say, ‘Greatness Begins Here’.” – Michael Vlismas

Photo: Tyrone Winfield/Sunshine Tour

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Veteran Da Silva shares lead with youngsters at Sunshine Tour Invitational

8th September 2021

Veteran Da Silva shares lead with youngsters at Sunshine Tour Invitational

Veteran Sunshine Tour professional Adilson da Silva found himself amongst the younger trio of Estiaan Conradie, Michael Palmer and Jaco van Zyl when he joined them at the top of the first-round leaderboard at the Sunshine Tour Invitational at Centurion Country Club on Wednesday.

The 49-year-old Da Silva opened with a seven-under-par 65 in which he birdied four of his final five holes for a share of the lead with the 23-year-old Conradie, the 31-year-old Palmer and the 42-year-old Van Zyl.

They are all one stroke clear of the trio of Steve Surry, Jean Hugo and Albert Venter. And in a group of players two strokes off the lead lies Ruan Conradie, brother of co-leader Estiaan.

At the top of the leaderboard, Conradie is looking for his second victory in three tournaments after making his breakthrough with a win in the SunBet Challenge hosted by Time Square. Palmer is also chasing a second Sunshine Tour title after his maiden win in the 2018 KCB Karen Masters. And Van Zyl is looking to get back to the form that won him 15 Sunshine Tour titles, the last of which came in 2016.

But Da Silva will most likely have had the biggest smile considering he’s a year away from becoming a senior golfer and has a professional career that started a year before Francois Pienaar was still leading the Springboks to Rugby World Cup glory at Ellis Park.

“I’m thrilled to be amongst the leaders, especially because over the last couple of events I’ve really struggled to remain focused. It’s been so hard for me to stay focused and I think it’s just because I’m struggling to get that tournament mindset going again after the long breaks we’ve had between tournaments,” said Da Silva.

“I felt like that again at the start of the round and I was a bit worried. But I just kept pushing myself to stay in the present and not get ahead of myself. Then one or two putts went in and it’s amazing the difference that makes. It gives you so much confidence and suddenly you feel like you can hole anything.”

That’s exactly what Da Silva did on the back nine with that strong finish, and including a chip-in for birdie on the 16th.

And it’s given him a great start as he looks to claim his first Sunshine Tour title since 2013. – Michael Vlismas

Photo: Tyrone Winfield/Sunshine Tour

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Schaper keeps building confidence with top results

7th September 2021

Schaper keeps building confidence with top results

Jayden Schaper’s decision to return home from Europe and build his confidence on the Sunshine Tour has already shown rewards in his finishes of ninth and second in his last two tournaments. He’ll continue with that process in this week’s Sunshine Tour Invitational, which tees off at Centurion Country Club on Wednesday.

“I’ve been knocking on the door with a few top-10 finishes and playing in a few final groups on the last day. I’ve been close and I’ve been working hard, and that shows the work I’ve been doing is correct,” said the young star, who will join another quality field in this R1-million tournament.

After a tough 11 weeks in Europe in which Schaper felt he wasn’t making the progress he would like, he decided to return to the Sunshine Tour and rediscover the kind of form that saw him challenge Branden Grace for the South African Open in January 2020 before finishing sixth while still an amateur, and then push Christiaan Bezuidenhout before finishing second to him in the 2020 Alfred Dunhill Championship in his rookie season as a professional.

“In Europe I kind of just got down on myself and felt a bit mentally drained. So, I decided to come back home and do a reset, get back on the Sunshine Tour and have some fun again. I’ve had a friend on the bag with me, and I’ve been able to see friends and family again. My goal was to just reset my mind and my game and do some work and get back on track. It’s slowly coming back, and seeing my name on the leaderboards helps.”

He finished ninth in the SunBet Challenge hosted by Time Square at Wingate, and then led the field going into the final round of the Vodacom Origins of Golf at Sishen Golf Club before finishing second there.

“I made a few mental errors at Wingate but came out with a top-10 there and in Sishen I did my prep really well and felt like I was hitting the ball better and feeling a lot more confident.”

This week’s field includes recent winners Estiaan Conradie and Alex Haindl. – Michael Vlismas

Photo: Tyrone Winfield/Sunshine Tour

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ProItUp locks on as Sunshine Tour rangefinder partner

1st September 2021

ProItUp locks on as Sunshine Tour rangefinder partner

ProItUp rangefinders is the latest partner on the Sunshine Tour as a proudly South African golf brand that is bringing the latest in high-performance golf optics technology to local fairways.

ProItUp was established this year with the core aim of providing the highest quality, most reliable and affordable golf optics technology on the market to the African golf community.

The ProItUp rangefinders all meet the required standard for use in international professional and amateur tournaments.

Their rangefinders feature an HD optical lens that enables a clearer image and field of view with 6.5X magnification, an adjustable eyepiece for enhanced precision, flagstick lock technology, burst vibration technology and a magnetic cart mount feature. One unique feature on ProItUp’s Series Z-10 model is the USB feature which allows golfers to charge their rangefinder on the move, with a charge time of 45-60 minutes, and with a battery life that lasts for at least 25 rounds of golf per charge.

ProItUp already has a strong list of Sunshine Tour professionals who are proud ambassadors of its products including Jacques Blaauw, Michael Hollick, Jared Harvey, James Pennington and amateur MJ Dlamini.

“We are excited and proud to partner with the Sunshine Tour. Seeing firsthand how quality optics improved our golf performance, we set out to make the same technology accessible to the African golf community. We are passionate about providing our customer base, both retailers and direct-to-consumers across the continent, with golf optics technology that is not only of the highest quality, but also delivers on value. We stand by our products and our customers to guarantee a word-class experience,” said ProItUp CEO Arvy Shongwe.

Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour, said: “As Southern Africa’s leading professional golf tour we are always looking at ways in which we can partner with proudly South African companies that help to strengthen the local golf industry. ProItUp is an exciting new player in the golf optics industry and we’re proud to partner with them as they seek to give our member professionals an even greater competitive edge.”