Sunshine Tour welcomes back limited number of fans at tournaments 1

17th January 2022

American Longbella shares Q School lead with an ace

The journey to secure a place on the Sunshine Tour teed off for many prospective touring professionals this week with the first round of the First Stage of the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School at Maccauvlei Golf Club on Monday.

American Thomas Longbella and South African amateur Sean Cronje led the scoring on day one with rounds of five-under-par 67. Longbella’s round included a hole-in-one on the par-three 16th. “I’ve just bought my playing group some drinks,” Longbella said after the round. “I wasn’t hitting my nine iron well all day. On the 16th tee my caddie said, ‘C’mon, give me a nine iron in the grooves’ and I was like, ‘Sure, I’d love to do that. I’ve been trying all day’. And then I absolutely flushed it. It pitched 10-feet past the hole and then trickled back in. It was a good day.”

Longbella said his decision to come out to South Africa and enter the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School was based on watching Erik van Rooyen’s progress on the PGA Tour.

“Just watching Erik convinced me that the Sunshine Tour is a good place to come and play.”

Longbella and Cronje lead by one over the South African trio of Rigardt Albertse, brother of Sunshine Tour professional Louis Albertse, Dylan O’Leary and amateur Christopher Long.

Albertse was delighted with his start. “It went very well. I was very good from the tee, had a few loose iron shots and then was very good with my short game,” said the man who is making his second attempt at the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School, and who has the benefit of some inside knowledge thanks to his brother.

“Thanks to Louis I have a good idea of what life on the Sunshine Tour is all about. It’s a dream of mine to play on the Sunshine Tour.”

Long was equally pleased to make such a good start to a week which he sees as playing a vital role in his future aspirations.

“When you look at the likes of Garrick Higgo, Louis Oosthuizen and so many others, they all started here on the Sunshine Tour. This is a great foundation and that’s the plan for me.”

The Tour’s Qualifying School has drawn a field of professionals and amateurs from South Africa as well as England, Germany, the United States, Austria, South Korea, Switzerland, Reunion Island, Zimbabwe, Norway, Portugal and Sweden.

The First Stage finishes on Thursday. Only the top 40 professionals and ties will progress to the Final Stage.


13th January 2022

Sunshine Tour pros chip in to help animal rescue sanctuary

Albatrosses. Eagles. Birdies. Sunshine Tour professionals clearly love their “feathered friends” that go well on a scorecard inside the ropes. But outside the ropes, their hearts lie with all animals – including their four-legged friends – as the Tour’s Players’ Committee showed with a surprise donation of R10 000 to the Glen Graze Rescue and Rehabilitation Sanctuary in Somerset West, and which was matched by another R10 000 from professional Justin Harding.

Sunshine Tour professionals Harding and JJ Senekal were on hand on Thursday to deliver the cheque to Glen Graze founder and owner Suzanne Mostert and her partner Pierre Steyl. The Players’ Committee donated R10 000, while Harding generously decided to match this amount for a total of R20 000 donated to the sanctuary.

“We heard of the need of this animal sanctuary through our Membership Manager Joanne Newell. The sanctuary has a nursery school on their property which helps fund their work with the abandoned or abused animals they rescue. But because of COVID-19, the nursery school’s numbers have declined severely and this has placed even greater financial pressure on the sanctuary. So as players we decided to try and help,” said Oliver Bekker, Chairman of the Sunshine Tour Players’ Committee.

Harding was particularly touched by the cause, which is why he decided to match the Tour’s donation with his own donation.

“It was a good day. This is such a beautiful facility and Suzanne and her team are doing such important work in the community for rescue animals. I’d really like to urge any other golfers or fans to please consider giving what they can to help them out,” he said.

Glen Graze’s Mostert was overwhelmed by the surprise donation.

“I cannot say thank you enough. This is the first time in our history at Glen Graze that something like this has happened to us. I really hope the Sunshine Tour professionals will become a part of our family, because it’s people like them that really carry us forward. I’m just so overwhelmed,” she said.

Glen Graze currently supports 19 rescue horses, 14 cats (all spayed), 12 dogs (excluding the 8 puppies), 4 donkeys, 2 cows, 2 sheep, 2 goats and 8 pigs, all of which are rescue animals.

Photo: (From Left to Right) Sunshine Tour professional Justin Harding, Pierre Steyl of Glen Graze, Caleb, Suzanne Mostert of Glen Graze and Sunshine Tour professional JJ Senekal at the handing over of a cheque for R10 000 from the Sunshine Tour’s Players’ Committee in support of the work done at the animal rescue shelter. Harding generously matched this amount with his own donation for a total of R20 000 that was donated to the sanctuary. Credit: Sunshine Tour.


12th January 2022

Limpopo entrenches its place on the international golf calendar

The 2022 Limpopo Championship will play a major role in a new expanded seven-tournament stretch of international Challenge Tour events being played in South Africa that will showcase the province of Limpopo to an even greater international audience.

The fourth edition of this tournament, presented by the Limpopo Tourism Agency and co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and Challenge Tour, will be played at both the Euphoria Golf & Lifestyle Estate and Koro Creek Bushveld Golf Estate from 31 March to 3 April for a total purse of $250 000.

More significantly, it will be the penultimate tournament in a record stretch of seven Challenge Tour events being played on the Sunshine Tour in 2022, and which will bring the brightest young stars from both the Sunshine Tour and Europe to Limpopo fairways.

“Our province is a prime tourist destination and we have earmarked golf as one of the key tools to market what we can offer,” said Moses Ngubeni, acting CEO, Limpopo Tourism Agency (LTA).

“When the professional golfers and golf fans arrive here from all corners of the world, they will be presented with a holistic offering of wildlife, scenery, cultural attire and traditional cuisines. For the LTA, this tournament also plays a significant role in promoting local businesses, especially small and medium enterprises.”

The week’s activities will begin with the official qualifying round on Monday 28 March, and which is followed by the tournament pro-am on Tuesday 29 March. On Wednesday 30 March, the next generation of Limpopo golf stars will be hosted at a golf clinic that will give them exclusive coaching from some of the leading professionals in the field. The 72-hole tournament then tees off from Thursday to Sunday, and with a host of entertainment and hospitality activities planned to also showcase the best of Limpopo.

Multiple Sunshine Tour champion Brandon Stone is expected to defend his title in a field that should also include two-time Limpopo Championship winner JC Ritchie and other stars and Sunshine Tour champions such as James Kamte, Toto Thimba Jnr., Jbe Kruger and Hennie Otto.

“South Africa is blessed with an abundance of great golf courses, good weather and spectacular wildlife and scenery. Limpopo has all of this in one province. The Limpopo Championship is a fantastic advert for the wonders of South Africa. This is a tournament that since its inception in 2019 has played a key role in the Sunshine Tour’s growth of our international footprint on the Challenge Tour. We are delighted that it will play such a major part in an expanded Challenge Tour schedule on the Sunshine Tour this year,” said Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour.