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30th October 2022

Smit joins SA stars with Vodacom Origins Final victory

MOSSEL BAY (29 October 2022) – Combrinck Smit added his name to an impressive list of Sunshine Tour stars who have all won on the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series as he clinched the Final of this year’s series in a playoff at the Pinnacle Point Estate on Sunday.

Smit overcame a double-bogey on the 16th in regulation play and then battled through a sudden-death playoff against the experienced Jake Redman to claim victory.

With his win on this series, Smit joins the likes of Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace, Dean Burmester, George Coetzee, Justin Harding, Thriston Lawrence and a host of others Sunshine Tour stars to have won a Vodacom Origins of Golf title.

The KwaZulu-Natal professional had to birdie the 18th to make it into a playoff with Redman on eight under par. Redman had earlier signed for a 68 to lead in the clubhouse and was then joined by Smit following his 72.

Both played parred the par-five 18th as the first playoff hole. Playing the hole again, Redman pulled his drive into the fynbos on the left and was forced to take a penalty drop, from where he went on to make a double bogey. Smit parred the hole to take the title.

“It’s never a great thing playing against a good friend and such a great guy as Jake in a playoff. But somebody has to win and thank goodness it could be me,” said Smit.

He started the final round with a one-stroke lead and admits it was a hard day on the fairways, which began with a bogey at the first and then included that double bogey on the par-five 16th.

“I don’t really know what happened today. There were some surprising shots out there. I’ve clipped the fynbos quite a couple of times this week and I was a bit shocked after the 16th. But I just told myself to keep going and that I still had a great chance to win the tournament. I got it done in the end,” said a relieved Smit, who also wins a Jaguar F Type for use until the end of the 2022/23 season.

The tournament marked the end of yet another successful season of the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series, which since 2004 has been the backbone of the Sunshine Tour’s winter schedule. 

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29th October 2022

Smit leads Vodacom Origins by one going into final round

MOSSEL BAY (29 October 2022) – KwaZulu-Natal professional Combrinck Smit will take a one-stroke lead into Sunday’s last round of the Vodacom Origins of Golf Final at Pinnacle Point Estate and he remains determined to keep playing as aggressively as this golf course will allow.

“I need to just go out there and still play quite aggressively on the final day. There is never a big enough lead when it comes to the Sunshine Tour. I’ll have to go out there and shoot another low round,” he said.

Smit was as delighted as the rest of the field to be presented with a far calmer day on Saturday at Pinnacle Point after a Friday where the infamous wind ripped through the field and into some of the finest golf swings on the Sunshine Tour.

“Today was unbelievable out there. You could actually stand still and make a swing and a putt,” he joked after his third round of 67 to take the lead on eight under par.

His nearest challengers are Malcolm Mitchell and Albert Venter following their third rounds of 67 and 69 respectively.

Smit led the first round, but a 76 in Friday’s brutal weather cost him that position. However, it’s a measure of how tough the golf course played that day that his 76 still put him in a tie for third place. And Smit remained philosophical about his golf in those conditions.

“If the wind blows like it blew on Friday, then this is probably one of the hardest golf courses I’ve ever played. It was tough for everyone that day. But you can’t start doubting yourself based on a day like that. You can’t take it personally. You just keep trusting in your swing.

“I hit it pretty well again and was in play most of the time. I set myself up with some nice birdie opportunities and wasn’t in trouble off the tee, and I’ll just keep trying to do the same. All I can do is control what I can control and the rest will take care of itself.”

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28th October 2022

Rohwer battles brutal wind to lead Vodacom Origins Final

MOSSEL BAY (28 October 2022) – It was a 71 that felt like a 61 for Martin Rohwer as he came through a second round of intense wind to lead the Vodacom Origins of Golf Final by a single stroke at Pinnacle Point Estate on Friday.

In conditions that Rohwer said were of the toughest he’s ever faced in his career, the KwaZulu-Natal professional overcame a difficult start in which he was three over after the first two holes and managed to dip under par for his round and lead the field on five under par overall.

“After that start, if you’d told me I would shoot a 71 I wouldn’t have believed you,” said a relieved Rohwer following his double bogey and then bogey at his opening two holes.

“I knew I was on the back foot right there. I would say in this wind it was easily one of the toughest rounds of golf I’ve ever played. Some of the holes just played so hard. Even putting was hard. You’d stand over a three-footer with the wind howling and you just weren’t sure what it would do to the ball.

“There are also some tough stretches on this golf course. You can really have a run of holes here where you are just straight into the teeth of the wind all the time.”

Rohwer’s nearest challenger going into the weekend is Albert Venter, a two-time winner this year. Venter posted a level-par 72 to move into contention with two rounds still to come.

Overnight leader Combrinck Smit signed for a 76, but such was the difficulty of the day that it still has him in a tie for third on three under par alongside Ockie Strydom and Jacques P de Villiers.

Friday’s weather certainly took its toll on the field with only 11 players under par for the tournament and the cut falling on eight over.

“Look, anytime you’re leading it feels good,” said Rohwer. “But you just need to look at the scores today to know that you can’t rest on your laurels here. You’ve just got to take it one shot at a time, and hopefully by the end of the tournament that’s good enough.”


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27th October 2022

Smit takes his chance and leads Vodacom Origins

MOSSEL BAY (27 October 2022) – Combrinck Smit took advantage of a calmer day at Pinnacle Point Estate and posted a seven-under-par 65 to lead the first round of the Vodacom Origins of Golf Final on Thursday.

Smit’s round of nine birdies, one eagle, two bogeys and one double bogey earned him a one-stroke lead over recent winner Stephen Ferreira. Dylan Mostert, another winner on the Tour this year, is two shots off the lead. And Albert Venter, twice a winner this year, is well placed on four under par.

The slight drop in the wind compared to the previous two days in the pro-am was a welcome respite for the field.

“This golf course is always a beast and my experience is that the wind always blows here. So we were lucky that it was quite calm today,” said Smit, who has found some form on the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series this year with a fourth-place finish in the Highland Gate tournament in August.

“I wouldn’t say I expected this round because I haven’t played my best golf over the last three tournaments. But golf is funny and you never know when it’s going to turn around. I hit the ball unbelievably well and that meant I had a lot of tap-ins for birdie putts. I think I only had a couple of birdie putts that were outside eight feet.”

Smit’s most prolific run of birdies came over the turn where he made six birdies in seven holes. Unfortunately there was also a double bogey on the par-three ninth in that stretch.

“I was too aggressive and had the wrong club and knocked it into the snake pit as they call it on that hole. But you know, overall you’re always happy with a low round on the first day. It puts me in a good position, and even more so with Friday’s weather looking very difficult.”

This week’s tournament is a 72-hole event which is a break from the traditional 54-hole tournaments on the winter leg of the Sunshine Tour. But it’s also perfect timing with the main summer schedule coming up in the next few weeks.

“We usually play three-round tournaments at this time so it’s great because you really want to make the cuts in those four-round events, and this is good for getting used to that.”


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26th October 2022

Franschhoek’s Whitson crowned 2022 Vodacom Origins of Golf national champion

MOSSEL BAY (26 October 2022) – Franschhoek amateur golfer Craig Whitson enjoyed a dream debut on the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series as he teamed up with Sunshine Tour professional Malcolm Mitchell to win the National Final of this prestigious pro-am series at the Pinnacle Point Estate on Wednesday, in what is quite aptly called “Iconic Mossel Bay”.

Whitson, a nine handicap who plays his golf at Pearl Valley, and Mitchell finished the 36-hole competition with 87 points and earned the title of 2022 Vodacom Origins of Golf champions, edging out Merrick Bremner and his amateur partner Marco dos Santos who finished second on 83 points.

“What a fantastic experience. This was my first experience of the Vodacom Origins of Golf and when we came off the golf course I actually said to Malcolm that I’ve got a tear in my eye about the fact that it had to end. As amateur golfers we were treated like professionals,” said a delighted Whitson.

“Malcolm was just wonderful to play with. We became like brothers over these two days. We had so much fun. The highlight for me was being exposed to what professional golfers are exposed to. It’s just an absolute treat to see up close how these professionals approach the game and the decisions they make on the golf course. It gives you newfound respect for them.”

Mitchell was equally thrilled to add his name to a long list of pro-am winners on this series, which dates back to 2004.

“The Vodacom Origins of Golf tournaments are always a pleasure to play, and this week was that much more special for me. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner this week than Craig. It was great,” he said.

This was the 18th season of the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series on the Sunshine Tour. The National Final brought together the top five finishers from each of the previous regional tournaments played around South Africa this year in their quest to claim overall honours.

Photo: Amateur golfer Craig Whitson (left) celebrates with Sunshine Tour professional Malcolm Mitchell after they were crowned the 2022 Vodacom Origins of Golf national champions at the Pinnacle Point Estate. Credit: Perfect Exposure.

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Schwartzel a favourite for Investec South African Open Championship glory

Charl Schwartzel hopes his intimate knowledge of the golf course at the Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate will boost his chances of joining the greats of South African golf and claiming the Investec South African Open Championship when it is played here from 1-4 December 2022.

“I’ve come close a few times and that victory has so far evaded me. It’s one that I would really like to be able to win before I put away the golf clubs,” said Schwartzel.

The former Masters champion is part of a strong South African challenge that will be back on local fairways in their national Open, including Dean Burmester, Dylan Frittelli, MJ Daffue, Brandon Stone, Erik van Rooyen, Thriston Lawrence, Oliver Bekker, Shaun Norris and defending champion Daniel van Tonder.

Schwartzel will certainly be one of the favourites, having once had a home at the Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate.

“I’m really looking forward to this year’s tournament. I lived there for a few years and I’m very familiar with the golf course having played it numerous times.”

The South African has predicted that the golf course will provide a strong challenge for the Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned field.

“The course will be a tough challenge. It’s already one of the longest golf courses in South Africa, and if it gets some rain and is wet that week it will play extremely long. If it’s playing firm, you’ll see some big tee shots because the ball goes a long way there.

“But I’ve always felt that this golf course is a second shot golf course because the greens are the defence. They are big but you have to be very precise with your distance control coming into them. I would say good iron play will serve you very well that week.”

Schwartzel has come close to winning his national Open a few times but has yet to add his name to this historic trophy. He has twice finished second, in January 2005 and then again in 2015 when he lost in a playoff to England’s Andy Sullivan. He also finished fourth in 2010 in the Centenary edition of the tournament.

“I’ve always tried to play in the Investec South African Open Championship. From a historical point of view, it would be an amazing tournament to be able to win as the second oldest national Open in golf. As a South African it would be a privilege to have that under your belt. Any golfer wants to win their national Open and it would mean a lot to me,” he said.

Tickets for the Investec South African Open Championship can be purchased at

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25th October 2022

Golf and business bring a message of hope for Mossel Bay learners

An ordinary Tuesday morning in Mossel Bay turned into an extraordinary moment as the learners of Ridgeview Primary School were given a powerful message of hope before the start of this week’s Vodacom Origins of Golf Final on the Sunshine Tour.

The Sunshine Tour – which is hosting a tournament at Pinnacle Point Golf Estate this week – partnered with Vodacom, Eagle Towers, the Skills Development Corporation, and SAIL to sponsor rugby, soccer and netball balls provided by the Living Ball initiative for the school. But a single morning in a community where the poverty is obvious but the enthusiasm to dream big is just as resonant, touched more than just the learners in the school hall.

“I also grew up poor,” Sunshine Tour professional Hennie Otto, a multiple winner of professional tournaments around the world, told the audience. “I was raised by my ouma and oupa. My ouma used to darn the holes in my socks. The only jerseys I wore were the ones my ouma knitted for me. But I have realised my dream of becoming a professional golfer. I once even beat Tiger Woods. My message to you is to go out there and believe in yourselves no matter where you come from.”

Dr Ntombi Mhangwani, Executive Head: Marketing Vodacom Business, said they were proud to support a community that supports them as a business.

“These kids come from homes that support Vodacom. Their parents use Vodacom connectivity. We have a responsibility as Vodacom that whenever we move around with our partners on the Sunshine Tour, to make sure we are engaging with the communities that build us as an organisation. We need to make sure we are also building them as a community. Vodacom wants to be part of a community that hangs onto dreams and hope, and we want to build these kids.”

The simple gasps of joy from a child receiving a soccer or rugby ball certainly resonated with the other business leaders who were present.

“Hope is important for everybody in our country at the moment. I came from very humble beginnings as one of five children in a home in Jamestown near Stellenbosch. We planted strawberries and cleaned dams, fetched water ourselves. Our school didn’t have enough classrooms so we’d sit on logs in the pine forest. It was my job to carry the blackboard and lean it against a tree. But our parents instilled in us a sense of achieving our goals. I started my business in a room in my house. My dad was fortunate to see the legacy of all five of his children become working professionals before he passed away two months ago,” said Avril van der Rheede, CEO of Eagle Towers.

Jaco Beukes, the CEO of SAIL, said he was touched by what he experienced.

“It is so humbling to see all of these children so excited about the lives ahead of them and enthusiastic despite their circumstances. This message of hope from Living Ball doesn’t mean life will be easy, but it gives them the tools to overcome the challenges.”

Sharlton Groenewald, the school principal, expressed his gratitude for not only the donation, but the message the learners received.

“We are a no-fee school so we don’t have extra money to pay for balls for the kids to use in sport. The message for our learners that there is hope despite the circumstances they live in is such an important one. For them to hear from people who came out of similar circumstances and became a success is great motivation for them and we’re so grateful for this.”

And Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour, ended with a very simple message of his own to the learners.

“You now have soccer balls, rugby balls and netball balls, and I want to encourage you – take that ball and run with it. Just as you take your dreams and run with them.”

Photo Living Ball 1: Sunshine Tour professional Hennie Otto with some of the learners of Ridgeview Primary School receiving the Living Ball sports balls.


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21st October 2022

Naidoo is a Sunshine Tour champion with SunBet victory

BALLITO, KwaZulu-Natal – Dylan Naidoo is acknowledged as one of the most talented young golfers in the country and the 24-year-old backed this up when he claimed his maiden Sunshine Tour title on Friday as he won the SunBet Challenge hosted by Sun Sibaya at Umhlali Country Club by two shots.

Naidoo – a member of the Sunshine Tour’s Papwa Sewgolum Class for historically disadvantaged professionals which is supported by Investec, SuperSport, Betway, VAT It, DNI, Credit Guarantee, Cobra Puma and TaylorMade, and The Papwa Foundation – said the key to his breakthrough title was becoming a creature of habit out on the golf course, and taking comfort from a set process.

“The most important thing is that I felt I had the win coming. I’ve been playing very well for the last few weeks. It’s the culmination of having really good processes and discipline out on the course.

“So the best part is that it does not feel like a lightning bolt came down from the sky and I got lucky and won. I feel like I can replicate this because I have a really good process. But of course we will have to wait and see what happens because you never know in golf.”

Naidoo began the final round two shots off the lead and settled himself with a wonderful front nine that was bogey-free and featured back-to-back birdies on the third and fourth holes. But he was still a couple of shots behind Luke Brown until a brilliant eagle on the 489m par-five 10th saw the former Big Easy Tour golfer vault strongly into contention.

Naidoo then targeted the short par-fours on the back nine, picking up birdies on three of them, and dropping a shot on the 15th, which he described as “a good bogey”.

A pair of birdies on 16 and 17 beat back the tentacles of the chasing golfers trying to reach him at the top of the leaderboard.

“My goal was just to turn under-par because I had not done it the whole week, so I got that job done on two-under, I played really solid,” Naidoo recalled.

“We had 209 to the flag on 10, but we wanted to pitch it well short because the greens were really starting to firm up. It was a little downwind and my seven-iron pitched and bounced exactly where it needed to and I sank the eight-foot putt for eagle.

“There are so many opportunities on the back nine and good tee shots set me up. I hit really good iron shots too, we were super-consistent with where we wanted to hit them and I putted really well. I sank a 25-footer on 17 which was not expected because it’s a very uphill putt, tricky just to get to the hole,” Naidoo said.

Once the job was done with a four-under 67 leading him to six-under-par for the tournament, he was grateful for all the supporting cast to his biggest win yet in his fledgling golf career.

“It’s taken thousands of hours of hard work and I could not have done it without the team around me – my sponsors, parents and loved ones – and everyone who helped along the journey. I’m just so ecstatic,” Naidoo said.

Brown fell away on the back nine as he dropped three shots by the 15th hole, finishing on four-under and in a four-way tie for second place with Jaco Prinsloo, amateur Jonathan Broomhead and Ian Snyman.

Prinsloo produced a top-class round of 68 that included two birdies and an eagle on the par-four ninth.

SA Strokeplay champion Broomhead, playing in just his second Sunshine Tour event, also shone with marvellous 69.

Overnight leader Richard Joubert went through hell on the front nine with two double-bogies and then three more bogeys on the back nine, finishing on one-under, in a tie for ninth.

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20th October 2022

Joubert takes charge at SunBet Challenge

BALLITO, KwaZulu-Natal – Richard Joubert played very good golf on the first two days of the SunBet Challenge hosted by Sun Sibaya to find himself on top of the leaderboard heading into Friday’s final round at the Umhlali Country Club.

Joubert shot a 67 in the first round and then on Thursday, in more difficult conditions, he posted a level-par 71 to sit at four-under-par for the tournament.

It is going to be a very competitive final round though, with five golfers – Ian Snyman (68), Luke Brown (70), Peter Karmis (68), Jared Harvey, whose 67 was the low round of the day, and JJ Senekal (68) – just one stroke back on three-under.

There are four more golfers on two-under, including overnight leader Dylan Naidoo, who took an eight on the par-five fifth on his way to a 74 on Thursday.

“My game is definitely feeling very good,” Joubert said. “It was definitely tougher out there today, the wind picked up and the flags were in more tricky positions too.

“The front nine is tough because the wind is mostly across the holes and very tough to read, while the back nine has some holes into the wind and some with the wind. And the wind direction is swirling so it’s tough to read.

“So my back nine was a bit more up-and-down, but I feel I can hit the shots and get a score out there,” Joubert said.

Back-to-back birdies on the fifth and the par-three sixth saw Joubert reach the turn in one-under 34, and he also birdied the par-five 10th, before a trio of bogeys snuck on to his card on the back nine.

So many potential challengers are lurking with 16 golfers within four strokes, but the pressure of trying to win his first Sunshine Tour title is probably the biggest threat to Joubert in the final round.

“I also led going into the final round of the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series at Humewood last year, but there was a lot of rain, it was hard golf and I did not hit the shots I wanted to,” Joubert said.

“But I learnt how I need to compose myself in a final round, and then two weeks ago at the Fortress Invitational at Ebotse I shot 69 in the final group on the final day.

“So I’ve had my first couple of top-10s on tour in the last couple of months and now it’s all about keeping my mind calm and playing good golf in the final round,” the 28-year-old Joubert, who represents Waterkloof Golf Club, said.

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Gary Player CC course primed to welcome the world’s best

Since the inaugural Nedbank Golf Challenge in 1981, the Gary Player Country Club course has been at the heart of what has made this tournament one of the most iconic and enduring in world golf.

This past weekend, a select group of sponsors and media were given the opportunity to play the golf course in the traditional Final Round before it is closed until the world’s best professionals arrive here for the tournament week of 10-13 November, 2022.

For Ken Payet, Tournament Director of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, this is the moment they have patiently waited for since the last Nedbank Golf Challenge in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic, and his team is hard at work around the clock to ensure that one of world golf’s most impressive golf courses built in the crater of an extinct volcano in the Pilanesberg mountains is at its usual explosive best for the 40th edition of “Africa’s Major”.

“Our whole team is very excited and we can’t wait for tournament week now. We are three weeks away from celebrating the 40th edition of this iconic tournament. After a two-year absence due to COVID-19 it’s so satisfying seeing the grandstands and hospitality up, and more importantly the team out there on the golf course preparing this magnificent course for the challenge to come,” said Payet.

The Gary Player Country Club course is kept in pristine condition year-round. But with only a few weeks to go to the biggest tournament it hosts, the golf course is closed to allow the maintenance staff to condition it to a level of near natural perfection.

“Our planning for the entire year is built around making sure the golf course peaks in its conditioning for tournament week. There is a dedicated team that is paying the closest attention to this golf course every single day. They are on the golf course at five o’clock in the morning and leave at four o’clock in the afternoon.

“We also need Mother Nature on our side. We rely on a good amount of rain in order to make sure we have a decent level of rough. So with a bit of rain still to come, I’ve no doubt that the golf course will once again be in perfect condition come tournament week.”

The golf course is famed as providing a true test of strategy and one which since the first Nedbank Golf Challenge in 1981 has withstood the advancements in golf equipment technology and generations of elite professionals.

“From a set-up perspective we always want to test the golfers because we never forget that we are hosting the world’s best golfers. These are professionals who play incredible golf week in and week out around the world. So we need to make sure they are fairly tested.

“But we always strike the balance in ensuring that the set-up provides the kind of exciting golf the fans want to see. We had record crowds in 2019 of 76 000 people. If we can break that record this year it would be fantastic. These are passionate golf fans who want to see the best golfers playing the best golf. So from a set-up perspective we will give them that.”

From now until tournament week, Payet and his team will focus on the final touches both on and off the course as they prepare to welcome back thousands of golf fans for the first time since 2019.

“The bulk of the infrastructure is up. From a golf course perspective, the grand old lady just needs a bit of a break from daily golf for three weeks. This will allow the golf course team to pay attention to the finer details and the detailed conditioning the world’s best players have come to expect from our golf course.

“And then we cannot wait to see the fans back here enjoying the very best that the Nedbank Golf Challenge and Sun City has to offer.”

Tickets for the Nedbank Golf Challenge, starting at R40 for the Pro-Ams and R250 for Tournament Rounds, are available here, while Hospitality Packages for the Circa Champions Club, Circa Pavilion or Circa 18th Green can be purchased here. The 2019 edition of the Nedbank Golf Challenge delivered record attendance figures and sold-out hospitality.