SUN CITY, North West – A sense of opportunity abounds on the Sunshine Tour at the moment with three first-time winners in the first three tournaments of the new season, and heading into a SunBet Challenge at Sun City this week that could keep building on this trend.
The first of this season’s SunBet Series of five tournaments tees off at the famed Gary Player Country Club on Wednesday, which is where Garrick Higgo claimed his maiden Sunshine Tour title in this event in 2019.
Higgo has since rocketed to PGA Tour stardom, providing more than enough inspiration for the young stars in the field this week who are still looking for their breakthrough on the Tour.
South Africa’s Louis Albertse and Hennie O’Kennedy are amongst those pushing hard for a maiden title. In three tournaments this season O’Kennedy has finished no worse than seventh, while Albertse has been no worse than ninth in his past three events.
“I’m gaining confidence as I go along. I’ve tweaked a few things in my swing which I’m still working on. I’m still just trying to understand the game as best as I can. I’ve led at times in all three of the past tournaments so I’m just trying to stay patient,” said Albertse.
A full schedule on quality golf courses, highlighted by the Gary Player Country Club this week, certainly contributes to the sense that opportunity awaits on the local Tour.
American professional Kevin Rhoderick certainly thinks so. “The Sunshine Tour is a great place to play. The golf courses are great, and the Tour is really on the up with all the new partnerships and sponsorships. They’re doing a great job of giving us a platform to play.”
England’s Bradley Bawden shares this belief. “The Sunshine Tour is a growing tour and I see a lot of opportunity out here. You play a lot of great golf courses and I just feel like you’re going to improve out here.”
Chile’s Matias Calderon, winner of the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School and who won the South African PGA Championship in 2018, agrees. “I came here when I just turned pro and I’ve been around for a few years now. There are very good tournaments here, and the players and people are very welcoming to me as a foreigner. Overall the organization of the tournaments is great and I really enjoy it here. There are so many good golf courses here.” – Michael Vlismas