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18th March 2022

Smiling Norris shoots 62 to lead Steyn City Championship

JOHANNESBURG – Shaun Norris had one instruction to his younger brother Kyle who is also his caddie in this week’s Steyn City Championship. “I said to him let’s go out and have some fun,” said Norris. The result was a sublime second-round 62 that has earned him a three-stroke lead going into the weekend of this Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned tournament.

On a perfect day at The Club at Steyn City when the scores were reaching deeper and deeper under par, Norris climbed to 18 under par overall with a bogey-free round of eight birdies and an eagle.

“Overall my game was great and I gave myself a lot of chances. I’m smiling out there and I’m very happy,” said Norris.

His nearest challenger is James Hart du Preez who set the morning target at 15 under with his 66. And in the afternoon, Dean Burmester moved into a strong position on 13 under par with a 65 that included back-to-back eagles on holes 10 and 11.

It’s set up a tantalising weekend on a golf course that is primed to reward attacking golf.

“My gameplan will stay the same,” said Norris. “I’ll keep smiling, we’ll have fun out there and see what happens. I’m really enjoying being back at home with my family, and my brother and I are having a lot of fun on the golf course as well. He’s also not scared to tell me if he thinks I’m wrong, so we work very well together. It really feels like I’m playing at home.”

Behind him, Du Preez – who is relishing having worked his way out of a slump with such a strong performance this week – is also focused on the enjoyment of the position he finds himself in.

“I’m really looking forward to the weekend. I’m feeling really comfortable with my game. Obviously there will be a few more nerves on the weekend. But to be in this position is a privilege, and if you didn’t feel nerves it would be a little bit weird. It’s going to be a lot of fun over the weekend.”

And Burmester, whose stretch of birdie, eagle and eagle over the turn put him right in the hunt, is exactly where he wants to be going into the weekend.

“I’ve got two more rounds around this beautiful golf course and I’m in contention in this tournament and right where I want to be.” – Michael Vlismas

Photo Credit: Tyrone Winfield/Sunshine Tour.

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17th March 2022

Du Preez finds his form to lead Steyn City Championship

South Africa’s James Hart du Preez said three weeks ago that something had clicked in his game, and it showed at The Club at Steyn City on Thursday when he flirted with a 59 on his way to a nine-under-par 63 and the first round lead of the Steyn City Championship.

Du Preez had one of those memorable days when the hard work of the past few months finally paid off as he teed off at the par-five 10thand immediately made an eagle and two birdies in his first four holes. He was 11 under par and starting to think about a 59, but then closed with two bogeys.

However, that finish did little to detract from a day that was a huge confidence booster for Du Preez.

“It’s still an unbelievable round for me, and probably the most fun I’ve had in tournament golf,” he said as he claimed a one-shot lead over fellow South Africans Shaun Norris and Jaco Ahlers and Italian Nino Bertasio.

“I haven’t had a good stretch of form lately and it’s been difficult. There’s been a lot on the go with the planning to get married and potentially moving over to the United States. So to get the form back has been great.”

It was at the Sunshine Tour and Challenge Tour co-sanctioned Mangaung Open early in March where Du Preez says he felt like he was finally coming out of the slump he was in.

“I missed the cut, but I messaged my coach and said I’d found something. I don’t know what it was. It wasn’t technical. It was more the way I was feeling about the game. It wasn’t like I was searching for anything anymore, and that’s a cool place to be. You can then start to refine your game and your shots and patterns rather than arrive at the golf course and wonder what you’re going to do to try and keep the ball in play.

“Every time you’re in a slump there’s a different recipe to get out of it, but the one consistent thing is to keep going. This game is so hard. You can do all the right things and the results still don’t follow. But you need to just carry on going and stick to the plan. I’ve had a lot of people around me driving home the message that I have been doing the right things, so it’s good to be in this position now. I felt good starting the day. I shot seven under in the pro-am as well. I really enjoy this course.”

Asked whether the two closing bogeys were possibly a result of the pressure he was feeling to shoot a once-in-a lifetime round of 59, Du Preez showed the kind of perspective that he’s playing golf with at the moment.

“With everything that’s going on in the world at the moment, shooting 59 is not pressure. We’re very fortunate to be out here playing golf in a beautiful setting.”

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16th March 2022

Steyn City Championship plays a role in Burmester’s Major dreams

JOHANNESBURG – Dean Burmester heads into this week’s Steyn City Championship at The Club at Steyn City with the immediate goal of building on his top-20 last week, and an eye on his ultimate goal of the 2022 Majors.

Burmester finished tied 18th in last week’s MyGolfLife Open hosted by Pecanwood despite not feeling on top of his game, and this is another key week for him in terms of his ambitions at Major championship level.

The South African has currently qualified for The Open and the US PGA Championship this year, and this week’s Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned event at Steyn City could have an impact on his other ambitions at this level as he keeps pushing for a place inside the top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking from his current position of 76th.

“I’ve got two Majors this year, and hopefully three. I want to be challenging in the Majors. Last year in The Open I had a flash and was in the top five for about nine holes which was great. I saw my name up there. As a boy growing up, that’s where you want to be. You dream of standing at The Open with the claret jug, or at The Masters with a green jacket on come Sunday. I want to give myself a chance in a Major on the back nine on a Sunday. I’d be pretty happy just to have that chance right now,” Burmester said on Wednesday.

For this week though, Burmester is focusing on being in contention on the back nine at Steyn City on Sunday.

“Last week was slightly disappointing for me. I didn’t have my best game last week, but I managed to get a top-20. I have a few niggling injuries, but I’m working hard with my trainer and the physio to get ready for this week.”

Like most of the field, Burmester is in awe of the golf course and the challenge it will present.

“What a place this is. I’ve been lucky enough to play here before. It’s a great golf course, and it’s grown in so well. It’s only eight years old and look at the condition of it for this week. The greens are just perfect. The rain has softened it up a bit which is a pity because I think they would’ve wanted it to be firm and fast. But it’s in spectacular condition, it’s beautiful, and it will pose a good challenge for the field this week.” –

Photo: Dean Burmester took part in a Long Drive Challenge at the Steyn City Championship on Wednesday. The challenge involved two Sunshine Tour players against two DP World Tour players. Burmester and James Hart Du Preez represented the Sunshine Tour, while Jordan Smith and Marcus Armitage represented the DP World Tour. The Sunshine Tour won the challenge. Credit: Tyrone Winfield/Sunshine Tour.  – Michael Vlismas

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15th March 2022

Europeans praise quality of Sunshine Tour

JOHANNESBURG – With the Sunshine Tour adding another two DP World Tour co-sanctioned tournaments in last week’s MyGolfLife Open hosted by Pecanwood and this week’s Steyn City Championship at The Club at Steyn City, it’s reaffirmed in the minds of many the overall quality of the golf product offered by the Sunshine Tour.

The Sunshine Tour is currently in the midst of a run of seven tournaments co-sanctioned with the Challenge Tour and a further two co-sanctioned with the DP World Tour, adding to the Joburg Open, South African Open and Alfred Dunhill Championship which already feature on the DP World Tour schedule.

It’s a schedule of opportunity that leading Sunshine Tour campaigner JC Ritchie has described as “life changing” for the South African professionals.

And it’s one that is equally appreciated by the European golfers who venture south every year to compete on the Sunshine Tour.

Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal is a European winner on South African fairways, most recently in last week’s MyGolfLife Open hosted by Pecanwood, and before this in the 2019 Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.

So, of his six DP World Tour victories to date, two have come on the Sunshine Tour.

“My professional golf career started in South Africa in the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December 2007. This place is so special to me. I probably have as many South African friends as Spanish friends. I love the South African people because they are very similar to the Spanish.

“It’s a dream to come here and play the game of golf. There is always great weather and good-looking golf courses out here. It feels like a second home to me. I knew from the moment I first came here that there is something very special about this country, and it’s the people. I love good golf courses and nature, and South Africa has it all.”

“I always love coming back to South Africa,” added England’s Ross Fisher, who won out here in the 2014 Tshwane Open.

“The first time I was here was probably at the end of 2005. It was my first year after getting my card from the Challenge Tour and then Qualifying School. I’ve always loved playing Leopard Creek at the end of the year, and I’ve always loved the Gary Player Country Club course. The courses here just seem to fit my eye. I love this type of grass and how the ball just sits up on it. It just suits my high ball flight.

“It’s just always a place I’ve enjoyed coming to, and it’s always a place I look on my schedule and think how I can come back to South Africa. My game is suited to playing out here so I was excited that there were a couple more events to come back to.”

Scotland’s Richie Ramsay is back in South Africa for this run of DP World Tour events, and as the winner of the 2009 South African Open Championship.

“I always like coming to South Africa. The food is always first class. I’ve brought my family down here before. The weather is always good and you’re one or two hours off time zones, which suits so many of us,” he said.

Spain’s Adri Arnaus could also concur. “I’ve been coming to South Africa for four years now and it has some of my favourite golf courses in Leopard Creek and the Gary Player Country Club at Sun City. The Sunshine Tour is one of the best tours in the world and those who are able to play it here in South Africa are very fortunate. The smaller tours in Europe lack this quality of golf courses and purses. It’s great to have them partner with the DP World Tour.” – Michael Vlismas


Photo: With two of his six DP World Tour wins coming on the Sunshine, Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal has long been a great fan of professional golf in South Africa. Credit: Tyrone Winfield/Sunshine Tour.


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13th March 2022

Larrazabal wins playoff for MyGolfLife Open glory

HARTBEESPOORT, North West – When he first walked a fairway in South Africa in December 2007, Pablo Larrazabal says he immediately knew “there is something special in this country”. On Sunday, the Spanish golfer who South Africans love as one of their own produced something equally special in a three-man playoff to win the MyGolfLife Open hosted by Pecanwood.

Larrazabal closed with a 67 to finish regulation play tied for the lead on 22 under par with England’s Jordan Smith and fellow Spaniard Adri Arnaus. Playing the 18th again in the playoff, Arnaus fell out as the other two made birdies. And then playing the 18th again, Larrazabal holed a five-footer for birdie and the win as Smith bogeyed the hole.

It was his sixth DP World Tour victory. But more significantly, he has now won two of those six titles in South Africa, including the 2019 Alfred Dunhill Championship.

“I knew from the moment I first came here that there is something very special about this country, and it’s the people,” said an emotional Larrazabal.

“What a day. I felt great this morning. It was one of those days where you just feel great and you know you’re going to have a chance. I started fast to get into the lead very quick.”

Larrazabal was one-stroke clear before a bogey at the 17th brought him into that three-way tie for the lead.

“I had that bogey on 17 which I wasn’t expecting. But then in the playoff, when Adri hit it so close on the first playoff hole, I knew we had to attack.”

And it was a playoff that brought tremendous cheers from the Pecanwood faithful for one of the most popular European golfers to visit these fairways.

“This wins means a lot. I’ve been working so hard and I’m very happy to get it done. I love this place. I love good golf courses and nature, and South Africa has it all. The crowds here have been so special to me all these years. The South African crowd is always so good to me.”

Smith, who signed for a closing 65, and Arnaus, who posted a final round of 67, shared second place.

George Coetzee finished as the leading South African with a strong final-round surge of 64 that earned him fourth place on 21 under par.

The Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour moves to Johannesburg this week for the Steyn City Championship at The Club at Steyn City. – Michael Vlismas

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12th March 2022

Dream win awaits for Du Plessis in MyGolfLife Open

HARTBEESPOORT, North West – “If you build it, he will come,” is what Kevin Costner’s character is told in the movie Field of Dreams. So Hennie du Plessis Snr. built it. He built a nine-hole golf course on his farm. And young Hennie came. He turned up and started his golf journey there. Now, this Sunday, Hennie du Plessis junior has the chance to arrive at his own dream.

Du Plessis has a two-stroke lead on 19 under par going into the final round of the MyGolfLife Open hosted by Pecanwood on the Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour.

At 17 under is the quartet of fellow South African Richard Sterne and Spain’s Adri Arnaus – who posted the low round of the day with a 64 –, Pablo Larrazabal and Nacho Elvira.

With a huge gallery following him on Saturday, Du Plessis adjusted well to a course he knows intimately but which changed its character overnight as the greens went from wet and receptive to dry and fast. He signed for a 70 to top a leaderboard that was held in check by the changing nature of this golf course on Saturday.

“I expected somewhere close to 25 under would lead tonight, but by the turn I saw that nobody was making a charge. The greens were a lot firmer. I wasn’t expecting that at all. On the second hole I hit a perfect shot that pitched eight metres short of the flag and it finished four metres past, so I was very surprised about that. But by then I knew the greens were going to be firm all day. I just tried to keep as calm as possible and try to hit greens and give myself opportunities,” said Du Plessis.

The opportunity is now certainly there as a maiden DP World Tour victory is within sight for Du Plessis.

“I’ll just take it as it comes, stick to my process, trust my targets and lines, and enjoy it. It was awesome to have so many people out there following. I haven’t played in front of a nice home crowd like this before. I enjoyed every minute of it. When we got to 13 (where they have entertainment for the spectators) I almost started dancing on the tee box there. It was fun.”

By Sunday, it could be a dream come true for the young boy all those years ago who stepped onto the golf course his father built, and who now has the chance to step into a whole new world of opportunity as a professional. – Michael Vlismas

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11th March 2022

Du Plessis leads going into weekend of MyGolfLife Open

Hennie du Plessis earned himself a one-shot lead going into the weekend of the MyGolfLife Open hosted by Pecanwood as he added a 65 to his opening 62 to lead the field on 17 under par.

Spain’s Nacho Elvira and Pablo Larrazabal and South Africa’s Tristen Strydom are his nearest challengers just one shot back. Elvira and Strydom signed for second rounds of 66 on Friday while Larrazabal posted a 65.

With strong support as the local favourite here at Pecanwood, Du Plessis was six under for his round through 15 holes and tied for the lead at this point. He then holed a tremendous eagle putt on the par-five seventh hole – playing as his 16th – that took him two shots clear. But then a bogey on the last drew him back to just one shot clear.

“It was hard work out there because I had to stay patient. The greens were a bit more tricky. So there was a lot of grinding out there and a lot of patience required. But my game has been good all week and I’m happy with my score,” said Du Plessis.

The weekend will bring more of the same pressure to keep playing attacking golf on a course that is certainly rewarding the field with some very low scores.

Larrazabal has said he’s “ready for the birdie festival” that the weekend will bring.

“That’s the only strategy. This is a tournament where many guys will be shooting lows 60s. The course is there for a 59. You have to go out there and make as many birdies as you can and try to reach 30 under par. That’s the number. When they told me that on Tuesday I didn’t believe it, but now I believe 30 is a great number to aim for.”

As for Du Plessis, his strategy won’t change too much on a golf course he knows extremely well.

“I’ve been doing something right so I’m just going to relax with my family tonight, have a braai and get back at it on Saturday. If you keep hitting good shots and stay patient it will happen on this course. I’ll just keep focusing on my targets on enjoy it.” – Michael Vlismas

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10th March 2022

Four-way tie for lead in low scoring MyGolfLife Open

It was a low-scoring opening round of the MyGolfLife Open hosted by Pecanwood on Thursday as four rounds of 62 from Hennie du Plessis, Tristen Strydom, Ross Fisher and Nacho Elvira led the field.

A Pecanwood golf course primed to reward this Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour field has set the tone for a week in which Richard Sterne, who ended round one just two strokes off the lead, believes a 59 is a distinct possibility.

The leading quartet are only one stroke clear of Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal, while Sterne, the in-form JC Ritchie and Germany’s Nicolai von Dellinghausen are all on eight under par. Wilco Nienaber and Dean Burmester are also well placed at seven under par.

But the man perhaps feeling the most comfortable this week is Du Plessis. He has only a one-minute ride from his house at Pecanwood to the first tee, and is clearly determined to take advantage of that home-course knowledge.

“It was an incredible round today,” said Du Plessis. “Sometimes it’s hard when you’re on your home course to expect a good score, but this course is forgiving and I know the greens well. But you know, if you give yourself a lot of opportunities you can shoot low on any course. It just makes it that much more special that it’s on my home course.”

“It’s still a long week with three more rounds to play, but this has been an awesome start and I’m looking forward to the next three rounds.”

Strydom used to live here as well, and his memories of this course were equally rewarding.

“I’m very familiar with the golf course and I gave myself a ton of chances today. The thing with this golf course is there are going to be chances out there, so you just have to be patient and give yourself good opportunities.”

Spain’s Elvira went on a scoring run that included seven straight birdies on the back nine. “I’m quite pleased. I loved it. Days like these you don’t want the round to end. It’s going to be a birdie fest this week.”

And England’s Fisher enjoyed every bit of his 62 as well in a county he loves and where he claimed his fifth DP World Tour victory in the 2014 Tshwane Open. “It was a lot of fun. I chipped in for an eagle on my first hole. That’s a nice little eagle three to start the day.”

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9th March 2022

Confident Lombard ready for MyGolfLife Open challenge

Zander Lombard has every reason to feel confident ahead of this week’s MyGolfLife Open hosted by Pecanwood as he returns to home fairways with finishes of tied third in two of his last three tournaments.

The South African is amongst a strong list of contenders for this Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour event, which tees off on Thursday.

The MyGolfLife Open hosted by Pecanwood is one of two new South African tournaments on the DP World Tour, and offers even more opportunity for the likes of Lombard to make the kind of breakthrough his form is suggesting could be imminent.

He finished second in November’s Joburg Open, which was reduced to 36 holes because of the weather. Then in February he finished tied third in the Ras al Khaimah Classic and followed this with another tied third in the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open.

“I’m feeling confident. Golf is all about confidence. When you believe you’re going to pull a shot off, then nine out of 10 times you do. So confidence is a massive part of golf, and it’s nice for me to have it for a change. I feel like my golf has been in a good space for the last three months now,” said Lombard.

“It’s been a good build-up to these two new events. I feel like my golf is in a good spot. Everything is solid. There’s nothing to complain about.”

His Wednesday practice round at this Jack Nicklaus golf course alongside the Hartbeespoort Dam was focused more on awakening some distant memories of a golf course he last played competitively during his amateur days.

“I remember the golf course, but it has been 11 years now. If I remember correctly it is a forgiving golf course so I think the scoring will be low.”

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8th March 2022

Davidse ready to take the next step in his career

Keenan Davidse is moving in the right direction in terms of the hard work he has put into his game, and this week’s MyGolfLife Open hosted by Pecanwood offers another big opportunity for the South African to take the next step in his career and realise the dream he’s been chasing.

The first of two new DP World Tour events on the Sunshine Tour tees off at the Pecanwood Golf & Country Club on Thursday.

With this week’s field a level up from the Challenge Tour co-sanctioned fields of the past few weeks in South Africa, Davidse has the perfect opportunity to test his good form in those events against the likes of DP World Tour winners Dean Burmester, George Coetzee, Thriston Lawrence, Daniel van Tonder, Justin Harding, Brandon Stone and a strong European presence as well.

He comes into this week with finishes of tied fourth and tied sixth in his last two Challenge Tour co-sanctioned events, which has seen him move into eighth place on the Challenge Tour’s Road to Mallorca rankings, and well within the top 20 that will gain automatic qualification to the DP World Tour at the end of this season.

He’s also decided to take up Challenge Tour membership for the first time in his career and commit to his dream of playing internationally.

“I’ve always told myself I want to play on different tours but I’ve never had the guts to sign up for membership. My friend convinced me to sign up for Challenge Tour membership now and I’m lying well on the rankings at this point in the season. So it’s just onwards and upwards for me now. I just want to work hard and keep enjoying my golf. I’m chasing a dream now,” said Davidse.

Davidse is also preparing to become a father for the second time, and is more motivated than ever to take his career onto the international stage.

“The due date for our second boy is 28 March. We’re really excited about that. I’m just going to take what I have and trust that I can achieve this dream. It doesn’t matter if I have to sleep in a bunker or drive through the night to tournaments. I’ll do it. I’ve never worked this hard on my game. I want to take that next step now, and also set an example for my kids that it’s about hard work, dedication and following your dream. I’ve always had the game to compete. I’ve never doubted this.”

The MyGolfLife Open hosted by Pecanwood significantly enhances South African golf’s global footprint and brings international golf back to a venue that opened in 1996 as the country’s first Jack Nicklaus signature golf course.