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31st March 2022

Du Plessis in the hunt once again in Limpopo Championship

MOOKGOPHONG, Limpopo – Hennie du Plessis has given himself another strong chance at a victory in a Limpopo Championship he seems almost destined to win, having not finished outside the top three in the last three editions.

Du Plessis continued his great form of the past few weeks and opened with a round of seven-under-par 65 at the Koro Creek Bushveld Golf Estate on Thursday to share a one-stroke lead with Germany’s Freddy Schott, England’s Jonathan Thomson, Spain’s Jordi Garcia, Emilio Cuartero Blanco and Ivan Cantero Gutierrez.

The first two rounds of this Sunshine Tour and Challenge Tour co-sanctioned tournament are shared by the Euphoria Golf & Lifestyle Estate and Koro Creek Bushveld Golf Estate courses, with the final two rounds played solely at Euphoria.

Du Plessis showed his comfort at a Koro Creek course he’s played since his junior days, and in a tournament where he finished third in 2019 and 2020 and then lost in a playoff in 2021.

“I’ve had a lot of good finishes in this event so I’m very happy to start well again this year. It was a lot of fun out there. I had some friends and family come and support me. I know both these courses so well and have good memories of both,” said Du Plessis.

His round started with an eagle at the par-five first when he hit a magnificent six iron to within 10 feet and holed the putt, and he never made a single bogey.

“That was a nice eagle to start with and it set the tone for the rest of the day. A bogey-free round is always awesome because it happens so seldom.”

Du Plessis has been in incredible form and has been pushing hard for a victory on the international stage to add to his 2017 Sunshine Tour triumph in the Vodacom Origins of Golf in Sishen.

Last year he finished seventh in the DP World Tour co-sanctioned Joburg Open and third in the South African Open. And he against came close to a maiden DP World Tour victory as he challenged for the MyGolfLife Open at Pecanwood last month before finishing sixth there.

“I’m playing good golf and I’m just going to stick to my process and keep focused on that,” he said.

Fellow South African Heinrich Bruiners also made a good start with his 66 at Koro Creek to place him just one shot behind the leaders and he’ll look forward to the next three rounds on a Euphoria golf course where he won the 2013 Vodacom Origins of Golf. – Michael Vlismas

Photo Credit: Heinrich Helmbold /Sunshine Tour

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Limpopo Championship 5 Players to Watch

JC Ritchie

Best finish in 2022: Two victories – Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open and Jonsson Workwear Open

Ritchie is one of the in-form players of 2022. The 28-year-old claimed back-to-back wins this year at the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open and the Jonsson Workwear Open. The Standerton-born player has a further two top tens and is the current leader on the Challenge Tour’s Road the Mallorca. A win this week will guarantee him a place on the DP World Tour for the 2023 season.

Clement Sordet

Best finish in 2022:  1st SDC Open

Sordet secured victory at last week’s SDC Open, the most recent event co-sanctioned between the Challenge Tour and the Sunshine Tour. The Frenchman, who has adapted successfully to the bushveld courses, will be looking to make it back-to-back victories in the Waterberg region at the Limpopo Championship.

Jaco Prinsloo

Best finish in 2022 – 4th Jonsson Workwear Open

The 32-year-old will be familiar with the playing conditions having played out of Koro Creek, one of the venues for the first two days of the Limpopo Championship. Prinsloo has two wins to his name this season which came at the Players Championship and Serengeti Pro-Am Invitational back in March 2021.

Alexander Knappe

Best finish in 2022 – 1st Dimension Data Pro-Am

The German is currently second on the Challenge Tour’s Road to Mallorca standings. The 33-year-old will be looking for a return to the form that won him his third Challenge Tour title after his play-off victory at the Dimension Data Pro-Am in Fancourt earlier this year.

Keenan Davidse

Best finish in 2022 – 4th Jonsson Workwear Open

Ahead of the SDC Open in Limpopo last week, Davidse had made six consecutive cuts and will be looking to improve on his best finish of fourth so far in 2022. The South African golfer has taken up Challenge Tour membership this year and a win in Limpopo will see him improve on his current 12th place on the Challenge Tour’s Road to Mallorca standings and bring him one step close to earning a DP World Tour card.

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30th March 2022

Ritchie leads strong field of contenders for Limpopo Championship

MOOKGOPHONG, Limpopo – JC Ritchie will be looking for his third victory in the four-year history of the Limpopo Championship as the Sunshine Tour and Challenge Tour remain in the province this week and with a strong field assembled for the challenge at both the Euphoria Golf & Lifestyle Estate and Koro Creek Bushveld Golf Estate.

Every single one of the top 20 players on the Challenge Tour’s Road to Mallorca will tee it up in the $250 000 Limpopo Championship as they seek to retain their positions within that group that at the end of the season will gain promotion to the DP World Tour.

And they will be led number one JC Ritchie.

Ritchie is back in a part of the golf world he loves. He won this title in 2019 and 2020 and is once again in top form coming into this week. He’s ranked first on the Challenge Tour’s Road to Mallorca rankings and is seeking a third victory on the Challenge Tour this year following his back-to-back wins in the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open and the Jonsson Workwear Open.

Frenchman Clement Sordet is also fast developing a love for Limpopo. He won last week’s SDC Open hosted by Zebula Golf Estate and Spa for the fifth Challenge Tour victory of his career, and he returns to a Limpopo Championship where he finished tied 16th in 2020.

“It’s been great to play in these seven events on the Sunshine Tour and Challenge Tour and get a win so early in the season. I like the Euphoria golf course and I’m looking forward to it,” said Sordet.

The international field sees the return of Northern Ireland star Tom McKibbin who had top-10s in both the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open and Jonsson Workwear Open.

South Africa’s Ruan Conradie, who lost in a playoff to Sordet at Zebula, will take another shot at glory this week.

Wilco Nienaber bolsters this field as he returns to a tournament where he finished second to Ritchie in 2020. He is also in good form at the moment following finishes of tied 10th and tied 12th in his last two DP World Tour appearances.

Hennie du Plessis is also back to see if he can go one better than his playoff defeat last year. Du Plessis featured in the four-man playoff that Brandon Stone eventually won. But he returns this year far more experienced and having challenged for the recent MyGolfLife Open hosted by Pecanwood on the DP World Tour before finishing tied sixth there.

The Limpopo Championship tees off on Thursday at both the Euphoria Golf & Lifestyle Estate and Koro Creek Bushveld Golf Estate for the first two rounds, and then solely at Euphoria for the final two rounds.

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27th March 2022

Sordet wins playoff to claim SDC Open

BELA BELA, Limpopo – Frenchman Clement Sordet birdied the first playoff hole to beat South Africa’s Ruan Conradie and claim the SDC Open hosted by Zebula Golf Estate and Spa on Sunday.

Sordet, who closed with a 67, and Conradie, who signed off with a 68, finished tied for the lead on 21 under par at the end of a thrilling final round in which the leaderboard changed several times.

Overnight leader Deon Germishuys held the lead over the turn and then relinquished it. England’s Marco Penge also had a share of the lead at one point. Conradie then had his turn to take control of the tournament. And Sordet hit the front before both he and Conradie were the last two left standing after 72 holes.

Playing the par-five 18th in the playoff, Sordet had exactly the same putt which he missed to win the title in regulation play, and this time made no mistake.

“It is really special. The past few years have been tough and it’s really nice to get a win here in South Africa,” said Sordet, who claimed his fifth Challenge Tour victory and his first win on the Sunshine Tour with this title.

“I felt pretty good for the playoff. I was playing well all day. I hit a good drive and had a chance to go for the green. Ruan laid up and I hit a three iron onto the green, and two-putted for the win. It was exactly the same putt which I missed in regulation play, so I knew the line.”

Sordet enjoyed the full African bushveld experience as he posed with his trophy against the backdrop of the local Zebula elephants on the 18th fairway.

“I’ve spent four weeks in different parts of South Africa. I love it. The wildlife is amazing,” he said.

Conradie took second place while fellow South African Deon Germishuys finished third on 20 under par.

The Sunshine Tour and Challenge Tour remain in Limpopo for this week’s Limpopo Championship. -Michael Vlismas

Photo Credit: Tyrone Winfield/Sunshine Tour

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26th March 2022

A hot putter carries Germishuys into SDC Open lead

BELA BELA, Limpopo – Deon Germishuys produced a putting display that left his playing partners in awe and which even he struggled to explain as he signed for a 63 to give himself a two-stroke lead going into Sunday’s final round of the SDC Open hosted by the Zebula Golf Estate and Spa.

Germishuys rolled in his final birdie on the 18thagainst the backdrop of a magnificent bushveld sunset, and at the end of a long day that for some began as early as a 3:30am wake-up call to complete the weather-affected second round at the nearby Elements Private Golf Reserve and then move straight into the third round at Zebula.

With a round of seven birdies and an eagle the young professional climbed to the top of the leaderboard on 19 under par and is two strokes clear of England’s Marco Penge – playing his first competitive round after being out for seven months following knee surgery – and fellow South African Ruan Conradie.

Germishuys is chasing his maiden professional title, and he created that opportunity for himself with a magnificent putting performance.

“I can’t put it into words. My putter has just been working so well this week. Every putt I looked at went in. You just get days like that, and I hope it can continue on the final day,” said Germishuys.

“It was good fun out there. I was playing good golf, the adrenalin was pumping, and I made a couple of long putts. I’ve been struggling a bit with my putter the last couple of weeks and it just got hot the last three days. My putting was definitely the best part of my game.”

After a stellar amateur career, Germishuys has had moments where he’s threatened to break through on the Sunshine Tour with nine top-10s and even a second place in the 2019 Vodacom Origins of Golf in Stellenbosch.

But in this kind of form, he’ll definitely feel this represents a golden opportunity in a tournament co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and Challenge Tour, and with the international doors that could open for his career.

“I’m excited. I’ve been in this situation once or twice before so I’m hoping to grab this one. I’ve been playing good golf so I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. I won’t put too much pressure on myself. I’m still going to play the way I’ve played and stick to my routine.”

Part of his routine which has worked so well for him this week is a bit of afternoon fishing.

“I’ve been sharing with Clinton Grobler this week and every afternoon it’s the same, he changes into shorts and goes fishing at a nearby pond. I think that’s helped me to relax as well.”

And now it’s time for Germishuys to possibly land the big one himself. – Michael Vlismas

Photo Credit: Tyrone Winfield/Sunshine Tour


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25th March 2022

Redman ready for weekend charge at SDC Open

BELA BELA, Limpopo – Jake Redman looked nothing but a picture of absolute calm as he overcame both a double-bogey start and the dark storm clouds swirling above him to play himself to within one shot of the lead in Friday’s incomplete second round of the SDC Open hosted by Zebula Golf Estate and Spa.

Redman signed for a 67 to make it safely into the clubhouse on 11 under par, with Germany’s Freddy Schott leading the field on 12 under following his round of 64 at the Elements Private Golf Reserve, the other course hosting the first two rounds of this tournament. Frenchman Clement Sordet is on 11 under for the tournament having played only six holes of his second round at Elements.

The weather affected play at both courses on Friday. The field at Elements had to contend with three suspensions of play, while at Zebula they managed to continue until a suspension had to be called for dangerous weather late in the afternoon.

As a result, the second round will have to be completed on Saturday morning before the start of the third round.

But Redman was smiling broadly at being able to complete his round, and to be well in contention despite the start he endured.

“I had a shocking lie in the rough on the first hole. Then after that I thinned it over the green with my bunker shot. So it was a long six on the first hole of the day. You’ve just got to put it behind you and start all over again. I was happy that my game was there to be able to do that. I made important putts that were key to keeping the momentum going and the birdies ticking over,” he said of the next eight birdies, and with only one bogey in there as well.

“I came into this tournament with the thought of taking it one step at a time, and I’ll keep doing that on the weekend.”

The leader Schott had an early start on Friday morning, and made the most of it. “It was great. Waking up at 4:30am was definitely worth it. My driving is carrying me through the whole round at the moment. But you also can’t shoot 64 without putting well, and that was a good part of my game as well. I had two weeks off now and spent some time in Cape Town and it’s turned out nicely for me. So now I just want to get out there and be competitive on the weekend, and see where it all goes.”

South Africans MJ Viljoen, Daniel van Tonder and Deon Germishuys are all well placed on 10 under par alongside Australian Deyen Lawson. – Michael Vlismas

Photo Credit: Tyrone Winfield/Sunshine Tour

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24th March 2022

Solid start puts De Smidt in the hunt at SDC Open

BELA BELA, Limpopo – The calm of the bushveld seemed to inspire South Africa’s Ruan de Smidt as he signed for a bogey-free eight-under-par 64 that places him one stroke off the lead of Switzerland’s Joel Girrbach after Thursday’s first round of the SDC Open hosted by Zebula Golf Estate and Spa.

Girrbach, who was only notified that he was into this tournament on Sunday and flew out of Europe to arrive on Tuesday afternoon, opened with a nine-under 63 at Elements Private Golf Reserve which is the other golf course hosting the first two rounds of this Sunshine Tour and Challenge Tour co-sanctioned tournament.

He had a slow start but still managed to turn in three under, and then really found his form on the back nine and made six birdies in seven holes.

“I didn’t start too well and struggled over the first few holes, but after that I somehow found my game. I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for this week so this start is great,” he said.

De Smidt was equally pleased with his start at Zebula. The Krugersdorp golfer admits he’s struggled to start well in tournaments for some time now, but a 65 in the opening round of last week’s Steyn City Championship gave him much-needed confidence that he’s brought with him into this week.

“I putted really well today. I didn’t hit a lot of fairways but was fortunately never out of play. It never really looked like I was going to make a bogey. On one hole where I missed the green I chipped in. So I felt I was pretty solid. I wasn’t sure what to expect from my game and then made a birdie on my second hole (the 11th) and went from there,” said the four-time winner on the Sunshine Tour who is looking for his first victory on the Tour since 2016. His last professional victory was in 2019 on the Big Easy Tour.

Frenchman Clement Sordet is tied for second with De Smidt following a 64 of his own at Zebula.

The Zebula course yielded the lower scoring on day one, but tournament leader Girrbach is not buying into any talk of it being easier than Elements.

“They are two very different golf courses. I really like Elements. It was quite tricky with the wind. Zebula is different and you have a bit more room off the tee, but it’s still a test.” – Michael Vlismas

Photo Credit: Tyrone Winfield/Sunshine Tour

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23rd March 2022

SA golfers continue their push for Challenge Tour glory

BELA BELA, Limpopo – After two weeks of DP World Tour events on the Sunshine Tour it’s back to Challenge Tour action in Limpopo for the next two weeks, and starting with the inaugural SDC Open hosted by Zebula Golf Estate and Spa.

The $250 000 tournament, which tees off on Thursday, will be played at both Zebula Golf Estate and Elements Private Golf Reserve. The first two rounds will be shared by both golf courses, with the final two rounds to be played solely at Zebula Golf Estate and Spa.

It’s yet another opportunity for the South Africans to entrench their already strong presence within the top 20 on the Challenge Tour’s Road to Mallorca rankings. The top 20 on the rankings at the end of this season will earn promotion to the main DP World Tour.

There is still a long season ahead, but the fact that it has started in South Africa with seven tournaments co-sanctioned with the Sunshine Tour has given local golfers a great head start.

South African golfers currently occupy 11 of the top 20 places on the rankings, reinforcing the value of these co-sanctioned tournaments and the opportunities they offer the local golfers who perform well on home fairways.

JC Ritchie still leads the rankings following his two victories in the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open and the Jonsson Workwear Open. He is joined in the top 20 by fellow South Africans Tristen Strydom (sixth on the rankings), Luke Jerling (7th), Keenan Davidse (8th), Bryce Easton (12th), Deon Germishuys (13th), Jaco Prinsloo (14th), Zander Lombard (15th), Jaco Ahlers (16th), Wilco Nienaber (17th) and MJ Viljoen (20th).

“I think it gives all the South African players an advantage to get the season started off well at home. We have a lot of brilliant players down here that don’t always have the financial support to get onto the main tours. So to have these events here is so special for us as players,” said Ritchie.

Ritchie will not only be chasing a personal goal as the current leader on the rankings, but also a historical one for South African golf.

He is looking to become the first South African golfer to win the Challenge Tour’s Road to Mallorca rankings since it officially started in 1991.

And this week he returns to a Limpopo province where he’s won twice before in his career.

Photo Credit: Carl Fourie/Sunshine Tour

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20th March 2022

Norris claims emotional victory in Steyn City Championship

JOHANNESBURG – Shaun Norris didn’t think they would make it to the final round of the Steyn City Championship. His wife Candice was with their three-week-old baby girl Riley-Grace. Then, as he was battling with Dean Burmester for the lead and falling behind, he saw them. And it changed everything for Norris.

“As we walked onto the 13th tee box my brother (also his caddie) Kyle said to me, ‘Look up there’. It was my wife and baby daughter. I didn’t think they would be able to come. When I saw them I said to myself, ‘Ok, now you do this’,” said Norris.

He went on to birdie three of his final five holes and stage an incredible comeback against a surging Burmester who had taken the lead at this point to win his maiden DP World Tour title by three shots on 25 under par.

“I don’t often get the chance for my family to be with me, and for me to win in front of them is an absolute blessing. I can’t describe that feeling and I’m grateful that in my life this has happened for me,” said an emotional Norris.

With a final round of 70 at The Club at Steyn City on Sunday, he provided a fairytale finish to a round that began with him four shots in the lead over Burmester, then seemingly out of the tournament after a slow start, and then right back in it again on the back nine.

“Dean came out of the blocks strong and definitely made me think about it. Then he overtook me. I didn’t hit the greatest shots and didn’t give myself many chances, but I just stayed patient and eventually it worked out. The birdies were out there, I just had to stay patient. It’s so special to have finally done this,” said Norris.

Burmester took second place on 22 under par with a 69, and with his challenge ended by a double bogey on the 17th. But his class as a competitor stood out once again as after his crushing six on the 17th and while walking down the 18th still trying to process this, he visibly stopped and allowed Norris to walk ahead onto the green and to great applause. And Burmester was clapping as well.

“This has been 11 years since I won in South Africa,” said Norris.

And then came the tears.

“This is for a special person we’ve lost over the last couple of years. I’m very grateful.”

That special person was Norris’s father, Patrick, the rock in the family who passed away from cancer in 2019.

No doubt when Norris looked up on 13 and saw his wife and new-born baby, somebody else was looking down and filled with immense pride. – Michael Vlismas

Photo Credits: Tyrone Winfield/Sunshine Tour.

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19th March 2022

Norris chasing a win for new baby girl

JOHANNESBURG – Shaun Norris will take a four-stroke lead into Sunday’s final round of the Steyn City Championship as he chases the biggest victory of his career on the DP World Tour.

Norris signed for a third round of 67 to climb to 23 under par overall. His nearest challenger is fellow South African Dean Burmester on 19 under par following his 66, and Germany’s Matti Schmid will start the final round on 18 under par following a 64 on Saturday.

Norris, who says he often jokes with his caddie and younger brother Kyle that he seems to start his rounds “as if I’m asleep”, made a fast start to his third round with two birdies in his first three holes. He added another four birdies and only one bogey.

“My putting has been very good the last couple of days. I’ve also been working a lot on my driving, and I’m glad it’s all starting to show,” he said.

Norris has nine victories worldwide, but admits a win here at Steyn City would be big for him.

“This would be special. I haven’t won in South Africa for 11 years. It would be a special one, and with my baby girl being born a few weeks ago, this would be for her.”

Burmester will be chasing equally hard as he goes in search of a third DP World Tour victory. He started his third round with four consecutive birdies and also made three-in-a-row over the turn.

“My game feels like it’s going in the right direction. I didn’t drive the ball as well as I did the other days, but I’m still putting great. I hit a lot of good putts that didn’t go in. If they do go in on the final day, it will be a low one,” he said. – Michael Vlismas

Photo Credit: Tyrone Winfield/Sunshine Tour.