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31st March 2023

Storm suspends play at Limpopo Championship

MOOKGOPHONG, Limpopo – The Limpopo Championship was hit with severe weather on Friday which prevented the resumption of the suspended first round at the Euphoria Golf and Lifestyle Estate, and with play eventually called off for the day.

The first round had to be suspended on Thursday as a result of dangerous weather conditions. Jaco Prinsloo and Jacques Blaauw shared the clubhouse lead with their rounds of six-under-par 66. Wynand Dingle was two strokes back following his 68. Neil Schietekat and Keenan Davidse were also both on four under par through 12 holes when play was called off because of poor light.

Play was scheduled to resume at 7:40am on Friday, but a threat of lightning prevented this restart. Then persistent rainfall rendered the golf course unplayable, and with five hours required for the golf course maintenance team to prepare the course if and when it stopped raining, the decision was made to call off play for the day.

The first round will now resume at 7:30am on Saturday, with the second round scheduled to start at 9:05am. – Michael Vlismas

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30th March 2023

Prinsloo, Blaauw share lead in Limpopo

MOOKGOPHONG, Limpopo – Jaco Prinsloo and Jacques Blaauw both opened with rounds of six-under-par 66 to share the clubhouse lead in the suspended first round of the Limpopo Championship at the Euphoria Golf and Lifestyle Estate on Thursday.

The duo are two strokes clear of Wynand Dingle, who signed for a 68. Neil Schietekat and Keenan Davidse were also both on four under par through 12 holes when play was called off because of poor light. Play was suspended earlier in the day because of dangerous weather conditions.

The first round will be completed on Friday morning before the start of the second round.

Prinsloo continued his solid form this season in a part of the world where he feels right at home.

“I grew up about 100 kilometres from here so it feels like home. I grew up on this kind of grass and it’s nice to be here and be in the bush,” he said.

Prinsloo has been incredibly consistent over the past few months. Since his top 10 finish in December’s Investec South African Open he enjoyed an impressive run in the European Challenge Tour co-sanctioned tournaments in February where he finished third in the SDC Open and second in the Nelson Mandela Bay Championship. He also added a share of 14th in the SDC Championship, which was co-sanctioned with the DP World Tour.

“It’s always nice to get off to a good start and see if you can build on that. I’m looking forward to the rest of the week,” he said.

Blaauw was also delighted to be in contention on a golf course he has immense respect for. “We were all talking about it earlier in the week and you need to keep it in play off the tee box here. You can’t miss a fairway here. If you miss a fairway it’s penalising. I mean I had to take two unplayable lies today, but I’m happy I made some putts which eased it the other way. I know I can make a score out here and I’m just going to go out and keep firing.” – Michael Vlismas

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29th March 2023

Third time could be a charm for Du Plessis in Limpopo

The fifth edition of the Sunshine Tour’s Limpopo Championship hosted by the Limpopo Tourism Agency has drawn a quality field for the 30 March to 2 April tournament at the Euphoria Golf and Lifestyle Estate, with Hennie du Plessis at the forefront of this challenge.

Du Plessis heads to the bushveld this week in great form following his runner-up finish in last week’s Jonsson Workwear Open, which was co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour.

His past form in Limpopo makes him one of the favourites this week. Du Plessis has twice finished second in this tournament. He lost in a four-man playoff in 2021 when Brandon Stone took the title, and then last year lost by three strokes to Poland’s Mateusz Gradecki.

Apart from a team victory, Du Plessis’ only individual victory on the Sunshine Tour came in the 2017 Vodacom Origins of Golf in Sishen. But the second place last week as well as his top 10 in December’s Investec South African Open suggests he’s building to another win soon.

The field includes Daniel van Tonder, who was also in that four-man playoff in 2021, as well as DP World Tour campaigner Deon Germishuys.

JJ Senekal and Stefan Wears-Taylor head to Euphoria as some of the most recent winners, with Senekal claiming victory on the European Challenge Tour’s swing in South Africa in February and Wears-Taylor breaking through with his maiden victory on the Sunshine Tour in March’s Mediclinic Invitational.

The young trio of Casey Jarvis, Martin Vorster and Yurav Premlall will also contest the total prize fund of R2 million.

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28th March 2023

A week bigger than golf

Sometimes, even on the Sunshine Tour, it’s about far more than golf. Sometimes it’s far bigger than birdies and bogeys, great shots or missed putts. The week of the Jonsson Workwear Open was one such week in golf, and the story of one woman’s journey in overcoming unimaginable adversity.

As Germany’s Nick Bachem stood on the 18th green at The Club at Steyn City celebrating his breakthrough victory in this Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned tournament last Sunday, next to him stood Jes Foord. She was holding a cheque for R233 000 that had been raised during the tournament through the Birdies for Purpose campaign. It was the culmination of every birdie made by the professionals competing in the event and which had been donated by Jonsson Workwear to The Jes Foord Foundation which works to empower rape survivors through awareness, education and support.

It’s Jes’s own story that suddenly puts anything that ever happens inside the ropes at a golf tournament into stark perspective. A story of adversity, resilience and hope.

“I started The Jes Foord Foundation in 2008 after I was gang raped. I wanted to start an organisation that could be there for people who had been abused or raped and just to be that person who is there for somebody in a time when they really have no one,” said Foord.

“We have grown over the last 15 years and have lots of different projects we work with as well as free counselling, educational talks and awareness programmes. Any work we do with The Jonsson Foundation is incredible. They are always there to help us.”

Nick Jonsson, CEO of Jonsson Workwear, was delighted to be able to present Foord with this cheque. “We’ve been involved with Jes for probably 15 years now. She’s an incredible woman who does amazing work and we’ve supported her in so many different programmes, so it was an obvious choice to support her important work through this tournament.”

At the end of a remarkable tournament, the slight blonde woman who stood alongside Bachem on the 18th green on Sunday represented another powerful moment of triumph over adversity and the role sport plays in supporting this ongoing triumph in the work being done to help others.

Outside the ropes, even professional golfers fight their own individual battles. Their ability to play this game so well does not make them immune to the hardships of life and the challenges that come their way. And that’s when the support of a company that cares about community and a Tour that shares this vision can make a difference.

And a week in golf when one woman can remind us all how to keep moving forward.

“You’ve got to take it one day at a time,” said Foord of her own journey. “I always use the example of buying a bag of apples and if one is off you don’t give up on the whole bag. This support is a perfect example of how beautiful this country is and how incredible the people here are. You can’t let one incident get you down. You have to look at the many positives in your life and also look at how you are able to help other people get through what you have been through. If you’ve been through it personally, you’ve got that extra empathy to be able to help other people get through it. That’s what keeps me going – knowing that something I may say or do along the way will help somebody else get through the same situation.” – Michael Vlismas

Photo: Professional Nick Bachem (left) and Jes Foord of The Jes Foord Foundation celebrating the success of the Birdies for Purpose campaign at the 2023 Jonsson Workwear Open at The Club at Steyn City. Credit: Tyrone Winfield/Sunshine Tour

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26th March 2023

Bachem breaks through in Jonsson Workwear Open

JOHANNESBURG (Gauteng) – Germany’s Nick Bachem claimed a dream debut victory on the DP World Tour when he won the Jonsson Workwear Open, co-sanctioned with the Sunshine Tour, by four shots at The Club at Steyn City on Sunday.

Bachem closed with a bogey-free final round of 64 to win on 24 under par. South Africans Zander Lombard and Hennie du Plessis shared second place on 20 under par with their respective final rounds of 65 and 68.

Bachem’s rise has been incredible from only recently playing on the Euro Pro Tour and then European Challenge Tour, to now being crowned a champion on the DP World Tour.

“It feels amazing. I think it’s my 10th start on the DP World Tour. I always believed I could win out here. But to be honest, just playing on the DP World Tour has been overwhelming, and now to win on it as well is amazing. I actually can’t process what’s happened to me over the last few years.”

Bachem overcame a challenging start to his final round when his drive off the first was plugged in a fairway bunker. He managed to make an incredible par from there and went on to play flawless golf.

“I had a bad start with that plugged lie on the first hole and a pitch out. But I changed my mindset during this tournament. I led a tournament in Kenya recently and I tried too hard to win there and it didn’t work out. So this week I just stuck to the plan and stayed calm. My caddie is also very experienced and kept me in the moment most of the time. I just wanted to enjoy today and enjoy having the chance to win a tournament. I played great and am lucky it was my day.”

Bachem says he’s also determined to enjoy every moment of what he believes is a privilege to play professional golf.

“I can’t think of anything else I’d want to do with my life, and how lucky I am. I mean, to be here in South Africa in the sunshine playing a beautiful golf course while it’s snowing back home, and all I have to worry about is whether I make a few birdies or not – that’s a pretty good life. I’m determined to enjoy every moment of being on tour and to really savour it. I learn from the bad weeks and enjoy the good ones.” – Michael Vlismas

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25th March 2023

Knappe leads into final round of Jonsson Workwear Open

JOHANNESBURG (Gauteng) – On a day of rain and delayed tee times, having no strategy proved to be the best strategy for Germany’s Alexander Knappe as he claimed the lead in the Jonsson Workwear Open headed into Sunday’s final round at The Club at Steyn City.

When the third round finally teed off at 11am, Knappe decided to just see where his golf takes him on a difficult day. The result was a solid 65 for a one-stroke lead on 17 under par.

“I had no strategy to be honest. I just played golf and waited to see how it ended up. No strategy,” he said. “It was great work. I made one bogey out there but I am only human so I can’t be too hard on myself. There was no roll on the fairways but you could go for every pin because it was so soft.”

Knappe has won before in South Africa in last year’s Dimension Data Pro-Am, which was co-sanctioned with the European Challenge Tour. But Sunday’s final round will be a new experience for him at DP World Tour level. “It’s my first time leading a big event. I’ll see how I prepare for that mentally. But I’m just enjoying that feeling right now.”

South Africa’s Hennie du Plessis, Swede Joakim Lagergren, Malaysia’s Gavin Green and Germany’s Nick Bachem are his nearest challengers on 16 under par.

Lagergren stormed through the field with an incredible 63 that was made even more remarkable by the fact that he never dropped a single shot in the wet conditions.

“I played really well today, especially my iron shots. It was a different course today and played longer because it was so wet. But I kept the bogeys off the card. It’s been a while since I’ve been bogey free,” he said.

South African Du Plessis also managed to go bogey free during his round of 65 and is delighted to be in contention going into the final round.

“When you’re in the mix it’s always a fun feeling. I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “It was hard work today. With all the delays this morning I knew we’d have to be patient out there. It’s so wet so you had to hit fairways and quality iron shots. The pins were also tucked away a little bit.”

But this golf course does set up well for Du Plessis, and he’s looking to take even more advantage of that in the final round.

“I enjoy this layout. The wide fairways and slopey greens are nice to play. Standing up there and hitting a good drive is great, and then when you’re a good mid-iron player it’s a fun course to play.” – Michael Vlismas

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24th March 2023

Surfer Bachem rides into Jonsson Workwear Open lead

JOHANNESBURG (Gauteng) – Germany’s Nick Bachem has often spent six weeks living out of a camper van and surfing in Portugal. He’s been on a safari in Kenya during a tournament, and last week he surfed at Jeffreys Bay for the first time. For a man who loves to try new things on tour, it’s probably no surprise that he pulled out a new driver for this week’s Jonsson Workwear Open at The Club at Steyn City, and it’s taken him to the top of the leaderboard.

Bachem’s 66 in Friday’s second round lifted him to 13 under par and a one-stroke lead over the field in this Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned event.

Frenchman Romain Langasque and Finland’s Sami Valimaki are his nearest challengers following their respective rounds of 64 and 65. And South Africa’s Martin Vorster and Ockie Strydom are in a group of players including Gavin Green, Kalle Samooja, Julien Brun and Marcel Schneider on 11 under going into the weekend. Strydom is hunting his third DP World Tour title in just over three months.

Bachem’s adventurous spirit has certainly worked for him this week on a golf course that’s forgiven him the odd miss with his new driver, and which he’s also made up for with an incredible short game.

“It’s the perfect course to try out a new driver because you can tee it high and let it fly, and just hit it as hard as you want to,” he said.

“I feel like when I try new stuff on tour it’s always a good experience and afterwards I find I’m happy I did it,” he added of his penchant for trying new things in the countries he visits.

“When you’re into surfing you’ve definitely heard about the Jeffreys Bay wave. It’s one of the most famous spots in the world. We stayed there for a tournament and I surfed every morning and afternoon. It was amazing. I like coming to South Africa. It feels like I spend more time here than in Germany. I also enjoy seeing so many great places and new people on tour. You get the chance to do stuff you would never do normally.”

Behind him, Vorster kept himself in contention with a 69 on Friday, and his place near the top of the leaderboard is fuelling his own growing confidence.

“The European Challenge Tour co-sanctioned events we had recently, starting with the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open where I finished fourth and then the SDC Open where I finished seventh, really gave me that confidence to know that I can compete against these players and that I have the game to win tournaments. I always knew I had the game but I didn’t always believe it, and that definitely gave me that self-belief,” he said.

As for Bachem, he heads into the weekend with yet another new experience that’s caught his eye here. “I went online and I saw there is a wave pool about one hour from here,” he said with a smile. “Maybe there’s a new surfing career waiting for me after my golf career.” – Michael Vlismas

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Coetzee inspires Scottish pro in Jonsson Workwear Open

JOHANNESBURG (Gauteng) – Scottish professional Ewen Ferguson was delighted to be able to tick off a personal goal of his in Friday’s second round of the Jonsson Workwear Open at The Club at Steyn City. He played his first round of golf with South Africa’s George Coetzee, whom he’s always admired.

“It was nice to play with George Coetzee. I’ve always admired him and it was cool to play with him and try and impress him and I think I managed to do that which was fun,” Ferguson said after his second round of 69 to place him on nine under par overall.

The 26-year-old Ferguson said Coetzee, a five-time winner on the DP World Tour, has always been a role model for him as to what a successful professional represents.

“I’ve always been a fan of the DP World Tour since I was young and I’ve always just noticed George and seen him at events that I went to. We used to share the same coach and I’ve always looked up to him. He’s just a very successful golfer and I think that’s ultimately what we all want to be.” – Michael Vlismas

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23rd March 2023

SA duo Fichardt and Vorster lead Jonsson Workwear Open

JOHANNESBURG (Gauteng) – South Africa’s Darren Fichardt and Martin Vorster took advantage of a cool day and a receptive golf course to share the first-round clubhouse lead in the Jonsson Workwear Open at The Club at Steyn City on Thursday.

Fichardt set the clubhouse target with his morning round of eight-under-par 64, and was joined there in the afternoon by Vorster as both players never dropped a single shot on day one of this Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned tournament.

They are one stroke clear of Sebastian Soderberg, Hennie O’Kennedy, Joakim Lagergren and Nick Bachem. Play was suspended at 18:27 because of fading light and with a few players still finishing off their first rounds. But none of them will challenge the current lead.

Momentum proved a key factor for both Fichardt and Vorster on Thursday.

Fichardt teed off the 10th and started his round with two consecutive birdies and never looked back.

“I just carried on with that momentum. I didn’t have a great warm-up so for my first two holes I was just focused on swinging it easy and hitting fairways and greens. I managed to make those two birdies and that was me. I just stayed consistent for the rest of the round. Once you get off to a hot start there’s no fixing up to do. You just keep riding the wave,” he said.

Vorster also enjoyed a momentum shift in his round. After missing a few short birdie putts towards the end of the front nine, the young star made an eagle on the 10th which sparked a run of four birdies in six holes thereafter.

“I’m very happy. After I missed a few short birdie putts on the front nine my caddie Michal just told me to be patient. On 10 I hit a great second shot and made the putt for eagle and that shifted the momentum for me. I hit the ball really well and gave myself plenty of opportunities and ended up making a few putts so a really solid start to the tournament.”

While the 47-year-old Fichardt is hunting his sixth DP World Tour victory, the 21-year-old Vorster is still in his rookie season on the Sunshine Tour and seeking his maiden professional victory this week.

Vorster has challenged on a few occasions already and is clearly starting to feel more and more comfortable in this position. “It’s a great spot to be in but the gameplan for the second round will be the same – hit fairways and greens and hopefully make a few putts,” he said.

Fichardt is also doing his best to stay in the present.

“The golf course is in excellent condition and there are low numbers out there. A good start always makes it easier for the rest of the week. But I’ll just go out and start the tournament from scratch again in the second round. I’ll play one-round tournaments mentally for myself.” – Michael Vlismas

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Former Bok Burger a big fan of SA’s golf depth

JOHANNESBURG (Gauteng) – Schalk Burger Jnr. had a bigger smile than usual as he teed off in the pro-am for this week’s Jonsson Workwear Open at The Club at Steyn City, with the former Springbok likening South Africa’s golf depth to being similar to the country’s rugby talent.

“I think we’re massively privileged. The Sunshine Tour and the amount of talent we produce is outstanding. There are so many correlations between that and our rugby, and a talent pool that seems almost endless,” said Burger.

This week, that talent will again be on global display in this Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned tournament, at a Steyn City golf course that adds significantly to the country’s renowned golf offering.

From its birth more than 10 years ago, Steyn City has been ranked amongst the top 10 estates globally and was recently ranked by New World Wealth as one of the Top 10 Lifestyle Estates worldwide for 2023. This is the second time Steyn City has earned this recognition.

At the heart of the luxury residential lifestyle estate is the championship Nicklaus Design golf course which this week hosts a major Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour event for the second time in its history.

Sunshine Tour professional James Hart du Preez came close to a DP World Tour victory when he challenged for the Steyn City Championship here last year, and he says driving through the estate this week has made him feel right at home again.

“When I drove in here on Monday I got that sense of feeling really comfortable here. I like this golf course. The fairways are a bit wider and the course is long. The greens are really good this week, which lends itself to some good putting. But as a lifestyle estate, I don’t think people have paid attention to what was here before and what this is now. The infrastructure that was put in here is incredible. It’s one of the best estates I’ve ever seen in terms of facilities. There’s a 50km mountain bike track, a 300-metre lagoon, the golf course, equestrian facilities – there’s really nothing that this place doesn’t have.”

The European professionals competing this week are equally impressed with what South Africa and the Sunshine Tour offers in the golf space.

“It’s my favourite country. I love coming here. The golf courses are great. I’ve been coming here for 20 years and it’s just a joy coming every time,” said Dutch professional Joost Luiten.

“I love it here. There are so many good courses. The Sunshine Tour is also so well run here and it really prepares you well for going to the next level,” added French professional Julien Brun. – Michael Vlismas