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26th October 2021

More SA golfers headed for US fairways

JOHANNESBURG – There will be a few more South African flags flying on American fairways next season.

Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Dawie van der Walt have already earned their PGA Tour cards as part of the top 25 at the end of the Korn Ferry Tour’s regular season.

And now Brandon Stone, Dylan Naidoo, MJ Daffue and Thriston Lawrence have all earned their playing privileges on the Korn Ferry Tour for next season, giving them a direct line to possible PGA Tour qualification in the future. The Korn Ferry Tour is the main feeder tour to the PGA Tour.

All three golfers made it through to the Final Stage of the Korn Ferry Tour’s Qualifying School, and are thus guaranteed a spot on the Tour next season. The number and quality of tournament starts they will earn is based on their finishing positions at the Final Stage.

Naidoo progressed to the Final Stage with a finish of tied 18that the UNM Championship Course in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he posted rounds of 73, 74, 69 and 66 for a total of two under par.

Both MJ Daffue and Brandon Stone progressed at Southern Hills Plantation in Brooksville, Florida. Daffue finished tied seventh on 14 under par with rounds of 66, 68, 69 and 71. Stone finished tied 17th on nine under par with rounds of 73, 66, 70 and 70.

The Final Stage will take place from 4-7 November at The Landings Club in Savannah, Georgia.

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Sunshine Tour welcomes back limited number of fans at tournaments 1

25th October 2021

Sunshine Tour welcomes back limited number of fans at tournaments

JOHANNESBURG – The Sunshine Tour has joined other South African sports organisations and federations in welcoming back a limited number of 2 000 fully vaccinated spectators to its upcoming tournaments this summer. The Sunshine Tour has further advised that strict controls will be in place to ensure adherence to the current government regulations and directions published by the Department of Sport and Culture on 15 October 2021.

The Sunshine Tour this week confirmed its schedule to the end of this year. The schedule includes the PGA Championship at St Francis Links from 4-7 November, followed by the Joburg Open at Randpark Golf Club from 25-28 November, and the South African Open Championship at the Gary Player Country Club at Sun City from 2-5 December.

The final tournament, the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek Country Club from 9-12 December, will not be open to members of the public due to the maximum daily allowed limit on spectators already being fully subscribed.

“We’re delighted that we can now begin the process of reintegrating our fans at our tournaments. But we will only do so in the strictest observance of the regulations presented to us by government,” said Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour.

“Throughout this entire process our COVID-19 compliance team, led by Wimpie du Plessis, the Sunshine Tour’s COVID-19 Chief Compliance Officer, has worked very closely with government to ensure that our tournaments are played safely and responsibility. It remains our priority to ensure the safety of our professionals and caddies, and our tournament staff, and now also the limited number of spectators who come to Sunshine Tour events.”

The Sunshine Tour recently embarked on a strong vaccination drive in which it has been offering vaccinations at its tournaments, starting on the Vodacom Origins of Golf series this year, to all the professionals and caddies.

Wimpie du Plessis confirmed that more than 90% of all Tour professionals, caddies, staff and support personnel are vaccinated.

The Tour would also like to welcome back young golf fans and is now also encouraging the age group of 12-17 to get vaccinated so that they can start attending tournaments.

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24th October 2021

Brown bags maiden win at Blair Atholl

JOHANNESBURG, Gauteng (24 October) – It took the near-perfect round for Luke Brown to win the Blair Atholl Championship delivered by The Courier Guy on Sunday and the 23-year-old duly produced a bogey-free 67 to claim his first Sunshine Tour title.

Two shots off the lead and having never won on the main tour before, Brown also had to conquer one of the longest courses in the world and multiple winners like Ulrich van den Berg, Trevor Fisher Junior and Neil Schietekat.

And a blustery, shifting wind was an added challenge.

But Brown showed remarkable composure and tremendous skill as he compiled one of the few bogey-free rounds all week and collected five birdies as well to finish on 12-under-par.

“They say your first one is the hardest to win and it was definitely very difficult today, but that was one of the best rounds of my life. It was breezy and difficult to choose the right club for these pin positions. But my ball-striking was amazing today, I hit all 18 greens in regulation, which is wonderful on the third longest course in the world.

“My putting was also solid and if you keep the bogeys off your card on an amazing course like this, then you’re going to be tough to beat. I definitely had to stay patient, you might feel like you should be making more birdies, but it’s not that easy on this course. I tried not to look at what the others were doing,” Brown said.

The leading three-ball of Trevor Fisher Junior, Ulrich van den Berg and Louis Albertse all birdied the par-five first hole, but they were then jerked back to reality as the rest of the final round became a struggle.

A double-bogey on the par-five seventh was a fatal blow for overnight leader Albertse, while Van den Berg double-bogeyed the par-four 12th and dropped four more shots coming home in 43. Fisher Junior had three successive bogeys on the treacherous stretch of long par-fours from 14 to 16 and closed with a double-bogey 7 at the 18th.

Schietekat was moving in the other direction, however, and birdies on the last two holes gave him a 67 and the clubhouse lead on 10-under-par.

Keagan Thomas fired a 69 to finish third on nine-under, while Anton Haig and Albertse tied for fourth on eight-under.

Thriston Lawrence shot a remarkable 64 to catapult into sixth place on seven-under.

But it was Johannesburg-based Brown who ended a popular winner by two strokes, having learnt the harsh lessons from the KitKat Championship at the start of the season when he squandered a five-shot lead in the final round.

“I was thinking about the KitKat Championship on the 17th and I always wanted to get back into that position. The leaderboard swings up and down and it’s difficult to keep track of, so I’d rather not worry about that. From that experience I learnt to be more patient because I felt I should have won that one.

“I felt my game was close to getting back to that level in the last month, but I just focused on getting on the green and giving myself a chance at least. It shows how tough the Sunshine Tour is that it’s taken me so long to win when I’ve been playing well,” Brown said.



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23rd October 2021

Winning mindset driving Albertse at Blair Atholl

JOHANNESBURG, Gauteng (23 October) – Louis Albertse notched his first Sunshine Tour title five weeks ago at Mount Edgecombe and is in prime position to add a second on Sunday after a top-class round of six-under-par 66 gave him a one-stroke lead after three days of the Blair Atholl Championship on Saturday.

Albertse’s remarkable round on a blustery day on one of the longest courses on tour included a double-bogey on the par-three 17th, when he found the large greenside bunker, but that was the sandwich in a pair of birdies on 16 and 18.

An eagle on the par-five fifth gave the winner of the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series event at Mount Edgecombe some momentum and a pair of birdies took him to the turn on four-under for the day.

The 25-year-old from Dundee then birdied the next two holes as well, soaring up the leaderboard when the second-round frontrunners could not make much headway on a testing day.

“This is a long course, the wind was tricky and I didn’t always get it right, but tough conditions get me going and to shoot six-under was very pleasing,” Albertse said. “There are more scoring opportunities on the front, but the back nine is harder, there are a few really long par fours and the wind got up. But I still played really nicely.

“It’s hard to get close when you’re hitting five or six irons in, so it helps when your putter gets hot and to have just 24 putts today was very nice.”

Anton Haig had three successive bogeys from the 15th hole to shoot a level-par 72 and stay two shots back on seven-under, Rupert Kaminski also remaining on his second-round score.

Jayden Schaper was putting together a great round, six-under-par through 10 holes to take the lead, but the highly-rated youngster then dropped five shots in the last four holes and came home in 42, finishing the third round on five-under for the tournament.

Albertse is being pursued though by two hugely experienced golfers in Ulrich van den Berg and Trevor Fisher Junior, who are both just one stroke behind after shooting 68s on Saturday.

Van den Bergh is an eight-time winner on the Sunshine Tour, although it is more than seven years since he last took the honours, at Euphoria Golf Club, also in the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series.

Fisher Junior is in a good run of form with four consecutive top-20 finishes and is a nine-time winner on tour.

A dozen golfers are within four shots of the lead and the Blair Atholl Championship is set for a thrilling conclusion on Sunday.

But Albertse is already in the top-10 of the order of merit in a breakthrough season for the third-year pro, he is high on confidence and good in the wind.

“Winning changes your frame of mind a bit, you know you can do it, you did it once so you can do it again. It frees up your game a bit and you give yourself more chances,” Albertse said.

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22nd October 2021

Haig, Kaminski share lead at Blair Atholl

JOHANNESBURG, Gauteng (22 October) – “This is a very demanding course and you have to know where to miss,” Anton Haig said on Friday after he seized a share of the lead midway through the Blair Atholl Championship delivered by The Courier Guy.

This knowledge came in very handy for the 35-year-old golfer as he fired a three-under-par 69 to catch joint first-round leader Rupert Kaminski on seven-under-par.

“It’s a very demanding course, the fairways look quite wide but they’re not and the course is so long. You need to miss in the right spots and fortunately I’ve played a lot here so I know which side not to miss on. I know the back ledges and slopes better than most, which definitely helped,” Haig said after his impressive round.

Haig said his play from tee-to-green on Friday was excellent, but his putter, which was hot in the first round, went cold in the second round. He will try to get both aspects of his game working well on the weekend as he chases what would be a confidence boosting win on the Sunshine Tour.

“The greens were really receptive after the rain came in in the morning – fortunately for just three or four holes – and I was hitting the ball really well. I had 32 putts today and 26 yesterday. So my ball-striking was really good today but my putting was a bit off.

“I’m definitely looking to score on the par fives, but you have to really knuckle two shots to get on to some of them – four of the par fives are more than 600 yards. So my length is a good advantage,” Haig said.

Kaminski, off in the afternoon in a fresh wind, shot a one-under-par 71 on Friday to go to seven-under for the tournament, while Riekus Nortje, who shared the lead with him after the first round, dropped two shots coming in to finish with a level-par 72.

That left Nortje tied for third with three other golfers – Heinrich Bruiners (71), Neil Schietekat, whose 68 included a double-bogey at the tough par-four 15th, and Luke Brown (69).

Jayden Schaper produced the round of the day, a tremendous 65 which included an eagle three on the 606-yard fifth hole, to climb to five-under-par, sharing seventh with Kyle Barker (71).

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21st October 2021

Kaminski’s method has him tied for the lead at Blair Atholl

JOHANNESBURG, Gauteng (21 October) – Rupert Kaminski and Riekus Nortje both birdied the par-five 18thhole to roar into a share of the lead in the first round of the Blair Atholl Championship delivered by The Courier Guy on Thursday.

The Johannesburg-based pair were both off in Group 4 from the first tee and both shot six-under-par 66s to lead Heinrich Bruiners by one stroke in the R1.25 million event.

While Nortje is a relative veteran in his eighth season on the Sunshine Tour, the 25-year-old Kaminski only earned his card in 2019.

And Kaminski actually birdied the par-three 17th as well, having overcome the frustration of a double-bogey five on the short eighth hole.

The Parkview golfer three-putted from 15 feet after missing the green right and chipping too firmly.

The short stick has been a problem for him lately, but on Thursday it was a rare mis-step on a day when he generally putted superbly.

“The putter was behaving really nicely and I made a lot of birdie putts. The challenge with the Blair Atholl course is that we don’t often play on a course this long,” Kaminski said. “So the par-fives are not necessarily the holes you’re going to score on, so my nine birdies were mostly because of my putter.

“I didn’t hit the ball that great, but I managed my game nicely and hit the ball in the right spots. Game-management is very important here because if you go for the flags and push too hard, you can find yourself in very awkward situations.

“I’ve been playing really nice golf the last two/three months and a low score has been there, but I’ve struggled with my putter. So today will give me a lot of confidence, although the three-putt on eight was really annoying,” Kaminski said.

At 7527 metres long, the Gary Player designed Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate is a unique challenge when it comes to Highveld courses but Bruiners, the talented 34-year-old from Fancourt, also stamped his mark on the day with his bogey-free 67.

For spectacular finishes though, nothing could beat Kyle Barker.

Blair Atholl is also unusual in that the front ‘nine’ is actually just eight holes and Barker, who started his round on the ninth, aced the 178m par-three with an eight-iron to catapult himself to four-under-par and a share of fourth place with Jared Harvey, Trevor Fisher Jnr, Chris Cannon, Hayden Griffiths and Anton Haig.

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19th October 2021

Joburg Open tees off Sunshine Tour and European Tour season in SA

The 2021 Joburg Open will usher in the start of the Sunshine Tour and European Tour’s major summer season in South African golf when the R17.5 million tournament is played at Randpark Golf Club from 25-28 November.

One of the City of Johannesburg’s flagship sporting events will begin a three-week stretch of international golf tournaments in South Africa that will be followed by the South African Open Championship (December 2-5) and the Alfred Dunhill Championship (December 9-12).

Further to this, the Joburg Ladies Open has also been announced as a co-sanctioned tournament between the Sunshine Ladies Tour and the Ladies European Tour, with a prize fund of €250 000 and set to be played at Soweto Country Club from 3-5 March.

“The Joburg Open has always been an important tournament to the City of Johannesburg because of the role it plays in showcasing the city to an international audience. I am delighted to be able to announce this year’s tournament which, now more than ever, is an important tool in our role as a city to continue to help stimulate the South African economy amidst the COVID-19 recovery,” said Matshidiso Mfikoe, the MMC for Finance for the City of Johannesburg.

“We are delighted to also announce the Joburg Ladies Open at Soweto Country Club. The rebirth of Soweto Country Club and its hosting of a professional tournament of this stature has been a shining example of what golf can do to uplift our community.”

Last November’s Joburg Open, won by Denmark’s Joachim B Hansen, was vital in stimulating the restart of the Sunshine Tour and South African professional golf following the hard lockdown. Hansen’s four rounds in the 60s helped him to a two-shot victory over home favourite Wilco Nienaber.

This will be the 14th edition of a tournament that boasts a strong list of past champions including former Masters winner Charl Schwartzel, PGA Tour winner Branden Grace, and multiple European Tour winners George Coetzee, Richard Sterne and Darren Fichardt.

“We are extremely pleased to announce the Joburg Open as the first tournament on our co-sanctioning schedule at the end of this year,” said Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour.

“I’d like to the thank the City of Johannesburg for so graciously supporting us over the past several years. I would also like to pay tribute to the late Councillor Geoff Makhubo, the former Mayor of Johannesburg who sadly passed away. Councillor Makhubo was a very close friend of the Sunshine Tour and one of our greatest supporters who was passionate about seeing the Joburg Open succeed as a major international event for his city. Our thoughts will certainly be with him at this year’s tournament.

“We are also very proud to announce the co-sanctioning of the Joburg Ladies Open with the Sunshine Ladies Tour and Ladies European Tour, and to continue the important work at Soweto Country Club and this golf club’s role in inspiring a whole new generation of golfers.”

Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: “The City of Johannesburg has been a loyal partner to a Joburg Open tournament that has played a key role in our longstanding relationship with the Sunshine Tour. I would like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to the City of Johannesburg, and also our condolences at the passing of Councillor Geoff Makhubo who was such a wonderful friend of this event over many years.”

Alexandra Armas, Chief Executive Officer of the Ladies European Tour, said: “We are delighted to add the Joburg Open to our 2022 schedule. Our sincere thanks to the authorities and the City of Johannesburg for supporting the women’s game. We have a longstanding relationship with the Sunshine Ladies Tour and the addition of a new co-sanctioned event will strengthen our collaboration and will impact positively on participation and interest in the women’s game in South Africa.”

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18th October 2021

Spectacular Blair Atholl makes its Sunshine Tour debut

JOHANNESBURG – The new Blair Atholl Championship delivered by The Courier Guy will tee off a strong build-up to the main summer schedule of the Sunshine Tour as the Tour’s finest professionals and two of the country’s leading amateurs gather at the prestigious Gary Player-designed golf course this week.

The R1 250 000 tournament begins on Thursday and finishes on Sunday, marking the first time that this iconic golf course designed by the legendary Black Knight will host a tournament on the Sunshine Tour.

The 72-hole tournament heralds the start of the build-up to the summer schedule that will culminate in the European Tour co-sanctioned tournaments at the end of this year.

Apart from the traditionally strong Sunshine Tour field taking part, the tournament will also feature South Africa’s number one ranked amateur Christiaan Maas, and Christiaan Burke, a three-time winner on the GolfRSA amateur calendar in the past three months, who have both been granted invitations to compete.

“We’re very excited to welcome the Blair Atholl Golf & Equestrian Estate to our schedule, as well as The Courier Guy as the headline sponsor of this week’s tournament, and to be able to add to our schedule and give our professionals more playing opportunities as they prepare for the upcoming summer,” said Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour.

“We’ve been working hard with all concerned at Blair Atholl for many years now to finally bring a major Sunshine Tour event to a magnificent golf course built by Gary Player on what was his beloved farm for many years. I’m very proud that we have reached this milestone and thank all concerned for helping to make this dream a reality for us.”

The Blair Atholl golf course has established itself as one of the finest creations in the impressive worldwide stable of Gary Player golf course designs. As one of the longest golf courses Player has ever designed, it promises to provide a stern test as a true championship layout.

“Gary Player spent over 20 years planning and designing what is today an unparalleled golf course at the heart of an unparalleled living experience on our estate. It is an absolute privilege for us to now be able to welcome Southern Africa’s professionals to our championship course, and we’re very proud to take up our place on the calendar of the Sunshine Tour,” said Paul Marks, Director of Golf at Blair Atholl Golf & Equestrian Estate.

The tournament provides another vital playing opportunity for the Sunshine Tour’s professionals and their caddies as the Tour continues with its growth strategy following the effects of the COVID-19 hard lockdown in 2020.

The Blair Atholl Championship delivered by The Courier Guy is now the fifth new tournament to be added to the Sunshine Tour schedule this year.

“The Blair Atholl Golf & Equestrian Estate has always had an ethos for excellence that mirrors the life philosophy of Gary Player, and a part of this is an emphasis on our community. As such, this is a great opportunity for us to showcase not only what we believe is the premier lifestyle choice in Johannesburg, but to also help the continued growth of the Sunshine Tour,” said Trevor Payne, General Manager of Blair Atholl Golf & Equestrian Estate.

Gilbert Phalafala, Chairman of the Blair Atholl Homeowners Association, said: “This is an exciting moment as we host a major professional golf tournament for the first time in our estate’s history, and we are looking forward to showcasing our world-class golf course as well as our beautiful estate.”

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16th October 2021

Rowe reaps the reward at Sun City

SUN CITY, North-West (16 October) – Lyle Rowe knew that if he kept knocking on doors one would eventually open again and Saturday was the day when his first Sunshine Tour title in five years finally arrived as he won the Blue Label Challenge at the Gary Player Country Club.

Rowe, one point off the lead going into the final round, shot a three-under-par 69 on Saturday for nine points, taking his overall tally over the four days to 33 points in the event that uses a modified Stableford scoring system.

That was four points clear – the equivalent of two birdies – of second-placed Dylan Mostert and was enough to give Rowe his third Sunshine Tour title and his first since winning the Zimbabwe Open in April 2016.

“I’ve been playing well for a while now and I just knew I needed to keep doing what I’ve been doing,” Rowe said. “It’s just a couple of shots every tournament and even though I didn’t make it easy for myself, I kept giving myself chances. I’ve gone back to the short putter, which gives me more feel, so I’ve been putting well and I’ve just been doing the right things mentally, controlling what I can on the course.”

It was also the Humewood golfer’s first win on South African soil as his other triumph came in the Zambia Open in June 2014.

“I was runner-up twice in this event in Swaziland, so I probably should have won there too! But to win on as great a golf course as this and in South Africa is special. I enjoy the format, I am quite aggressive and it shows I guess in that I get more birdies and bogeys, but a dropped shot is only minus a point while a birdie gets you two points,” Rowe said.

Where the 34-year-old Rowe really shut out the opposition was around the turn, where he played superbly to collect four successive birdies.

Despite bogeys on the 16th and 17th holes, Rowe failing to get out of a greenside bunker on his first attempt but hitting the next shot to three feet, Mostert was four points behind as they teed it up on the final hole.

But the left-hander sent his drive into the right rough and was unable to go direct for the green with his second. Rowe hit the perfect drive, laid up and then two-putted for a rock-solid par.

“I got nice momentum and confidence around the turn, which meant I went into the back nine feeling positive and I trusted myself down the stretch. I tried to get a bit too cute with that first bunker shot,” Rowe said.

Another left-hander, Ruan Korb, who was the second-round leader, fired the best round of the day, his 67 earning him 14 points and lifting him into a share of third with Jaco Ahlers on 27 points. Korb collected two eagles on the back nine, including one on the par-four 15th when he drove the green.

Ockie Strydom was alone in fifth with 26 points.

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15th October 2021

Mostert brings home the bacon at Sun City

SUN CITY, North-West (15 October) – The third round of the Blue Label Challenge at Gary Player Country Club once again showed golf’s wonderful ability to surprise us as qualifier Dylan Mostert soared to the top of the leaderboard with a four-under-par round of 68.

Mostert will go into Saturday’s final round with a one-point lead in the modified Stableford scoring system over the experienced Lyle Rowe, with first-round leader Ockie Strydom another point back.

Mostert began the penultimate round in seventh place, five points off Ruan Korb’s lead. Making the cut was an achievement alone for the 23-year-old because he has not managed that in his three previous Sunshine Tour events this year.

Hence his need to prequalify for this R1.5 million tournament.

The State Mines golfer birdied the par-three third hole, but his real charge up the leaderboard came around the turn when he picked up three birdies in four holes.

Two more birdies on the 14th and 15th holes sealed a marvellous round for Mostert.

Rowe was on fire on the back nine, where he collected six of his eight points and he is on track to contend for his first title since the Zimbabwe Open in 2016.

Strydom continued to be on a rollercoaster ride around one of South Africa’s most prestigious courses. His only points on the front nine were a minus-one for a bogey on the fourth, and on the back nine he mixed three birdies with two dropped shots.

Rhys Enoch and Jaco Ahlers both collected five points on Friday and finished on 21 points overall, in a tie for fourth place.