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27th September 2023

SDC Group becomes new Sunshine Tour partner

The Sunshine Tour is proud to announce that the SDC Group is a new partner of the Tour with their significant support of South African professional golf.

The SDC Group currently sponsors two tournaments on the Sunshine Tour with a global impact – the SDC Open and the SDC Championship

The SDC Open, which made its debut on the Sunshine Tour in 2022, is co-sanctioned with the European Challenge Tour and plays a vital role in the pathway to greatness for South African professionals seeking to advance their careers internationally.

The SDC Championship, which made its debut in 2023, is co-sanctioned with the DP World Tour and adds significantly to the Sunshine Tour’s strong alliance with one of the major tours of world golf.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome the SDC Group to our family of Sunshine Tour partners. The SDC Group plays a vital role in investing in and upskilling South Africans through the important work it does. Similarly, the Sunshine Tour invests in the future of South African professional golf talent through our philosophy that ‘GreatnessBeginsHere’,” said Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour.

“In a very short space of time the SDC Group has made a tremendous impact on our Tour and offered our members even greater opportunities to advance their careers as we’ve been able to grow our tournament footprint on both the European Challenge Tour and DP World Tour.”

Daniel Gibhard, CEO of the SDC Group, said: “Our relationship with the Sunshine Tour echoes our desire to develop the skills of all South Africans and, in this instance, our country’s future professional golf stars. We know the value that a high level of training combined with opportunity can have.”

“As a partner to the Sunshine Tour we look forward to being able to keep making an impact and adding to the overall success of the Tour.”

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Sir Michael Bonallack

The Sunshine Tour is deeply saddened by the passing of Sir Michael Bonallack, a man who lived his life with a passion and reverence for the great game of golf.

Sir Michael left an indelible footprint on not only the game he so dearly loved and played at such a high level, but more importantly on its people whose lives he touched through a life steeped in golf.

He served the game with a passion to see it grow and thrive around the world, and with a calmness in leadership that also made him one of the finest and most trusted administrators in the history of our game.

Sir Michael was a beloved member of the wider Sunshine Tour family.

He was a wonderful player, an excellent administrator and most importantly a true friend of golf.

A giant of our game has left us.

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23rd September 2023

Maiden win for Rupert Kaminski at SA PGA Championship

ST FRANCIS BAY, Eastern Cape – Rupert Kaminski stayed calm and centred through a gruelling and testing final day of the SA PGA Championship at the St Francis Links on Saturday, holding off Matthew Spacey, who stayed in contact with him the whole day, to claim victory by one shot and make his first Sunshine Tour title a big one.

With extreme winds expected on Sunday, Saturday was a race against time to get the tournament finished with both the third and fourth rounds being played, with three-balls going off at the same time in shotgun starts.

Kaminski and Spacey both fired terrific six-under-par 66s in the third round in the morning to close to within one stroke of leader Peter Karmis (71) on nine-under-par.

In the afternoon, it became a two-horse race as Kaminski, who teed off on the first hole, and Spacey, who set off on the 18th, separated themselves from the field. Karmis could only manage a 77 in the final round, finishing on four-under and in a tie for third with Ryan van Velzen (72) and Adam Breen (73).

Spacey had a troubled start with two bogeys in his first four holes, while Kaminski played sublime golf on the front nine, with three birdies in the first six holes.

Spacey fought back though with birdies on the par-four 12thand par-three 14th holes, while Kaminski made a couple of bogeys coming home.

Kaminski parred the last though for a level-par 72, while Spacey fell agonisingly short with bogeys on the par-four 15th and on the par-three 17th, his closing hole.

“I’m still extremely overwhelmed and I don’t think it’s ever going to really sink in. I’m blown away with the way I played and it’s such a privilege for me to lift this prestigious trophy,” Kaminski said some time after his triumph.

“Par was definitely a good score today. I thought two-under for the whole day [both rounds] would be good enough, but I was six-under for the third and fourth rounds, which is really tremendous.

“I was just very calm through the day and I had a lot of trust in everything I was doing. I hit the ball well, I putted well and I just had a lot of faith and belief today. I continued to focus on what was in front of me.

“In the last couple of years, I’ve been in position to win a few times, but I let it get the best of me, I let the occasion get to me. But I was impressed by how in control I felt today,” Kaminski said.

Like an astronaut being rocketed off to Mars, Kaminski now finds himself in a new world of golf; in celebrated company as the winner of South Africa’s second-oldest professional golf tournament. He joins the likes of Gary Player, Dale Hayes, John Bland, Tony Johnstone, Ernie Els, David Frost, Mark McNulty and Louis Oosthuizen in putting their names on the impressive trophy.

“It’s incredible, apart from moving into fifth on the Order of Merit, I’m also into all the big events for the rest of the season, the co-sanctioned tournaments at the end of the year.

“Hopefully this will be the start of really big things and it’s a nice step in that direction. And I love coming to the St Francis Links, there’s something about this place, I really enjoy the course and the people,” Kaminski said.

The R2 million event this year celebrated the significant support of the Eastern Cape Tourism and Parks Agency and African Bank.

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22nd September 2023

Karmis leads as SA PGA Championship chases Saturday finish

ST FRANCIS BAY, Eastern Cape – On the fairways of a St Francis Links golf course that is as stunningly beautiful as it is rich with temptation, Peter Karmis was able to avoid the latter and claim a three-stroke lead after two rounds of the South African PGA Championship.

Karmis fired a brilliant five-under-par 67 on Friday, the lowest round of the day, to move to eight-under-par overall and sitting pretty as the leader of this prestigious event, which will conclude a day early on Saturday when the third and fourth round will be played. This is due to extreme winds being expected on Sunday, the scheduled last day.

“Due to gale-force winds predicted for Sunday, play will not be possible. In order to get a 72-hole result we will have a double shotgun start on Saturday. Round three will start at 06h40 and the round four shotgun start will be no earlier than 12h00. In the event of us being unable to complete round four on Saturday, the tournament result will be based on the conclusion of the third round,” Sunshine Tour Tournament Director Gary Todd said.

Karmis, who was one stroke off the lead after the first round, enjoyed a great start to the second day as he birdied the first two holes and then eagled the par-five sixth. Impressive birdies on the 16th and 18th holes stretched his lead.

“The course is difficult and long and the wind was up today, although it did die down a bit towards the end, but it was still at least one club then,” Karmis said.

“I played pretty nicely, but your heart is pounding on so many holes here. And with the weather forecast saying it’s going to be even windier, it’s going to be a pretty hair-raising last day.

“This course is designed for the wind and it’s intimidating. The key is not to be tempted, to not push too much. You mustn’t get greedy and do something unnecessary, otherwise you’ll get hurt.

“But I’ve played here enough to know what is doable and what is not. I hit driver everywhere and I hit a lot of good ones today, some lovely irons and I putted and scrambled well, getting lucky a few times,” Karmis said.

One of those up-and-downs came on the last hole, with its sumptuous views and elegant clubhouse that make it a prime candidate for the sort of photograph that sells for plenty at golf auctions, as Karmis holed his bunker shot for birdie.

Also gunning for the win on Saturday, and looking to join such eminent previous champions as Gary Player, Dale Hayes, John Bland, Tony Johnstone, Ernie Els, David Frost, Mark McNulty and Louis Oosthuizen, are Adam Breen (68) and Keegan Mclachlan (71) tied in second place on five-under-par.

Veteran Jaco van Zyl could also be in the mix after shooting a 70 to go to three-under-par in the R2 million event that this year celebrates the significant support of the Eastern Cape Tourism and Parks Agency and African Bank.

Robin Williams, who shared the lead overnight with Mclachlan, posted a 74 on Friday to slip to two-under-par, sharing fifth place with Rupert Kaminski (73), Ryan van Velzen (72) and Matthew Spacey (72).

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21st September 2023

Young guns leading the charge at SA PGA Championship

ST FRANCIS BAY, Eastern Cape – With every outing on the Sunshine Tour, rookie Keegan Mclachlan is learning, and on Thursday he broke new ground as he claimed a share of the first-round lead with Robin Williams in the PGA Championship at the St Francis Links with an impressive four-under-par 68.

The SA PGA Championship is one of the most prestigious titles in the local game with a list of past champions including Gary Player, Dale Hayes, John Bland, Tony Johnstone, Ernie Els, David Frost, Mark McNulty and Louis Oosthuizen. And this year the event celebrates the significant support of the Eastern Cape Tourism and Parks Agency and African Bank.

It is the first time Mclachlan, who has a title apiece on the Blue Label Development Tour and the Altron Big Easy Tour, has led on the Sunshine Tour.

Playing in his 11th event, he started South African golf’s second-oldest professional tournament on the back nine and birdied his first two holes, before picking up another two birdies to go to four-under through seven holes.

Back-to-back bogeys on the tricky par-four 18th and first holes were offset by three successive birdies from the fourth hole. Mclachlan closed with a bogey-five on the par-four ninth hole.

“I played quite nicely in the morning and it was a good start. There was not too much wind, but it started to pick up on my back nine. But overall it was a good round, for most of the day I kept the ball in play well, my approach shots were good and I made a few nice putts,” Mclachlan said.

“Overall it was very solid and you just have to accept the bogeys and enjoy the challenge. I feel that my game is in a good spot at the moment, I just haven’t scored as well as I would have liked, but it’s been feeling close.

“I’ve learnt a lot already in my 10 tournaments on tour but this is the first time I’m leading. It’s been a cool learning curve and I’m just trying to learn and enjoy myself as my career continues,” the 24-year-old Mclachlan said.

The South African born but England-based Williams also started solidly, from the first hole, managing to go bogey-free until the par-four 12th hole, while also collecting four birdies in five holes from the third.

He collected further birdies on the par-five 13th and par-four 15th holes, but also bogeyed the 400-metre 18th hole.

Williams and Mclachlan have a one-stroke lead over a quartet of golfers on three-under 69 – Rupert Kaminski, CJ du Plessis, Peter Karmis and Jake Redman.

Du Plessis, who started his round on the 10th, had birdied the par-four eighth hole to go to five-under and the sole lead, but he then managed to double-bogey the ninth, his last hole, to drop back.

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20th September 2023

Strong field chasing glory in SA PGA Championship

ST FRANCIS BAY, Eastern Cape – This week’s South African PGA Championship has drawn a strong local field including a former three-time champion, past contenders and the next generation of stars all seeking a place on the trophy of South African golf’s second oldest professional tournament.

The windswept fairways of St Francis Links will from Thursday to Sunday feature a tantalising mix of the best of the Sunshine Tour in a tournament that also celebrates the significant support of the Eastern Cape Tourism and Parks Agency for three years, and African Bank.

The in-form Kyle Barker, fresh from his second victory this year in last week’s Vodacom Origins of Golf Western Cape which has moved him into third place on the Order of Merit delivered by The Courier Guy, and former South African Open champion Daniel van Tonder headline the field for this R2 million tournament.

The field this week includes three-time South African PGA Championship winner Jaco van Zyl, former top amateurs and now rookie professionals Aldrich Potgieter and Kyle de Beer, and the leading rookie on the Fortress Rookie of the Year standings, Gerhard Pepler, who claimed his maiden Sunshine Tour victory this season in the Gary and Vivienne Player Challenge.

There are also several players who in the past have come close to adding their names to the illustrious history of this event.

Pieter Moolman is back to try and win a title he lost to Dean Burmester in 2021, finishing runner-up on that occasion.

Trevor Fisher Jnr. has twice finished second in this event, while Combrinck Smit was runner-up in 2018, Makhetha Mazibuko lost in a playoff with Erik van Rooyen in 2017, and Hennie Otto has also twice had to settle for a runners-up finish.

This is one of the most prestigious titles in the local game and has a list of past champions including Gary Player, Dale Hayes, John Bland, Tony Johnstone, Ernie Els, David Frost, Mark McNulty and Louis Oosthuizen.

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19th September 2023

Legendary SA caddies share iconic moments from ‘Africa’s Major’

They are the men who have had a front-row seat to the greatest moments in Nedbank Golf Challenge history as the caddies who have carried the bags and helped call the clubs for Major winners, world number ones and icons of ‘Africa’s Major’. For two South African caddies, their memories will last a lifetime. For another, Gary Player changed his life through this event.

The three South African caddies Simon Masilo, Tiger Lekhulene and Zack Rasego each have unique memories and perspectives on the Nedbank Golf Challenge, which this year will be played for the 41st time at the Gary Player Country Club from November 9-12 with a 66-man field including defending champion Tommy Fleetwood and fellow Ryder Cup stars Justin Thomas and Justin Rose.

Masilo was the caddie for Ernie Els during his three Nedbank Golf Challenge triumphs, while Lekhulene was the man on the bag for Nick Price and his hat-trick of Nedbank Golf Challenge titles.

In particular, both men share a unique place in the history of this event as having been the caddies for Els and Price when they set the tournament scoring records in this tournament that still stand to this day.

Lekhulene, now 63 years old, remembers fondly the year Price did so first in 1993, when he won the Nedbank Golf Challenge by a staggering 12 strokes on 24 under par 264. “On the first hole in the final round, Nick holed his second shot. He played beautifully that whole week. Nick was the best ball striker in the world at that time.”

But his favourite memory of his time with Price at Sun City was the year they beat Tiger Woods for the Zimbabwean’s third Nedbank Golf Challenge victory.

“That was the playoff in 1998. We were one shot ahead of Tiger when we reached the last hole on the Sunday. Tiger was just off the green with his second on 18. Nick tapped me with his putter and said, ‘Watch. Tiger will hole that chip’. And he did to force the playoff. Then we won the playoff. I just remember people going crazy that year. The fans had t-shirts with Nick and Tiger’s name on them. It was funny because every time the fans called ‘Tiger’ I also looked around. Nick was so happy to beat Tiger that year because he said to me afterwards, ‘You watch. Nobody will beat this kid going forward’. And of course, that’s what happened. Tiger won everything.”

Like a changing of the guard, Els then took the mantle from Price as the dominant Southern African in this event. He did so in emphatic fashion, winning his first Nedbank Golf Challenge in 1999 with a new tournament record of 25 under par 263.

“Ernie played fantastic golf. He holed everything he looked at. Even when he made a mistake, it was a good mistake. It just all came together. I remember the seven iron he hit on the 15th that year in the third round – he almost holed it and I knew then we were in for something special with that record. We shot 65 in the pro-am that year, which was also a sign.

“I don’t see anybody shooting 25 under on that golf course again. You have to be so good, and Ernie was. On the morning of the final round, Ernie said to me, ‘I think it’s time for a new record. Let’s go for it’,” said the 65-year-old Masilo.

“Coming up 18 with Ernie leading in that event and 25 000 people cheering, it’s the greatest feeling ever. I really enjoyed it. For me, it’s still our best tournament in South Africa.”

Then in 2017, caddie Zack Rasego completed a fairytale journey that started as a young boy living in poverty outside Rustenburg and culminated in his victory with Branden Grace in the Nedbank Golf Challenge that year.

It was shortly after building the Gary Player Country Club course and preparing for the first Nedbank Golf Challenge in 1981 that Gary Player initiated a caddie programme at Sun City. Rasego was one of the young intakes and quickly caught Player’s eye. The Grand Slam champion hired him to be his personal caddie and they won the 1988 Senior Open together.

It began a journey that saw Rasego become one of the best tour caddies in the game as he went on to win the 2010 Open Championship with Louis Oosthuizen and then the 2017 Nedbank Golf Challenge with Grace amongst several other triumphs in the game.

For 40 years now, the Nedbank Golf Challenge has provided some of the greatest moments in golf.

These three men were there to see many of them first-hand. – Michael Vlismas

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17th September 2023

Barker grabs second title with Vodacom Origins playoff triumph

STELLENBOSCH, Western Cape – Kyle Barker claimed his second Sunshine Tour title this year when he won the Vodacom Origins of Golf in a playoff at the Devonvale Golf and Wine Estate on Sunday.

Barker produced a strong final round of 65 and finished tied for the lead with Pieter Moolman on 10 under par 203 Barker then birdied the first playoff hole as Moolman parred. Martin Rohwer finished third on eight under par.

It was a thrilling finish to a tournament Moolman seemed destined to win having led after day one and then taking a commanding six-stroke lead into the final round, and with Barker starting seven shots off the lead.

But on a day when Barker went out in 30 to make his charge and then parred his way through the back nine, Moolman stumbled to a closing one over par 72.

Moolman still managed to force his way into the playoff with a crucial birdie on the par-four 18th but couldn’t match Barker thereafter.

“I was seven shots behind and I knew I had to do something special. I made six birdies on that front nine and it really helped me. Nothing wanted to drop on the back nine but I hit top quality golf shots. Then I finished the 18th and we thought I’d won and my friend had already sprayed champagne on me, and I’d had a few sips. But there was a mistake on the leaderboard and then I was told Pieter had made birdie on the last to take it to a playoff. So I had to get to the tee for the playoff. Luckily I made a great birdie there,” said Barker.

The victory is Barker’s second this year following his breakthrough triumph in the Stella Artois Players Championship in April

“It feels amazing to have won again. I had so much energy this week.”

The victory is also a timely one with Barker planning for a wedding at the end of this year.

“Now I can pay for the photographer and the flowers.” – Michael Vlismas

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16th September 2023

Moolman surges six clear in Vodacom Origins

STELLENBOSCH, Western Cape – Pieter Moolman will take a six-stroke lead into Sunday’s final round of the Vodacom Origins of Golf at the Devonvale Golf and Wine Estate, even while admitting that his game is not where he would like it to be.

Moolman followed up his opening 66 with a 65 on Saturday to surge to 11 under par overall. His nearest challenger is Albert Venter on five under following his second round of 68.

Despite leading for two rounds of this Sunshine Tour event, Moolman still feels his swing is not where he’d like it to be.

“I’m still not really hitting it like I want to. Today was just a case of me making putts. If you’re making putts from everywhere it feels a bit like you’re getting away with something. I’ve been struggling swing wise, so you start relying more on the short game,” he said.

Since winning his first Sunshine Tour title in last year’s Fortress Invitational, Moolman has shown signs of growing into a consistent competitor who is ready to take the next step up in his career.

He finished tied ninth and third in the Dimension Data Pro-Am and SDC Open respectively earlier this year, both of which are co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and European Challenge Tour. Internationally he’s had top finishes of 15th and 10th in the Czech Republic and Italy on the European Challenge Tour this year. And most recently he finished fifth in the opening Vodacom Origins of Golf tournament at Zebula last month.

But even with these performances and a commanding lead, Moolman is taking nothing for granted.

“It’s easy to get ahead of yourself, but I know what golf is like. You can shoot 63 today and 75 tomorrow. We all know golf is unpredictable and anything can change at any moment. Everyone wants their A game all the time, but golf isn’t that simple. You can go from your A game to D game really quickly. So when you’re struggling, you want to manage your game well and I’ve done that this week.

“I’ll just keep staying in the moment and take it shot for shot.” – Michael Vlismas

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15th September 2023

Moolman battles weather to lead Vodacom Origins Devonvale

STELLENBOSCH, Western Cape – Pieter Moolman survived a brutal first round of wind, rain and weather delays to post a five-under-par 66 and claim a two-stroke clubhouse lead in the Vodacom Origins of Golf at Devonvale Golf and Wine Estate.

The last vestiges of the Cape winter brought wind and rain on day one of this Sunshine Tour event, which resulted in a suspension because of waterlogged greens. Play did eventually resume, but the first round will have to be completed on Saturday morning.

Moolman made it into the clubhouse just before darkness, and with CJ du Plessis his nearest challenger following a three-under 68.

“A delay always lengthens your day. I’m very happy because the conditions were very tough out there. I’m not really happy with where my game is at right now. I’m not playing like I need to. But I’m just keeping it in play and giving myself birdie opportunities where I can,” said Moolman.

As his nearest challenger, Du Plessis suffered the brunt of the bad weather in the morning and was delighted to sign for a round of 68.

“It was exceptionally tough. The weather was brutal and there were strong winds and delays, so I was really pleased with my round,” he said of a day which started on the 10th hole for him and which he bogeyed before responding with an eagle at the next.

“I felt like 10 was probably the toughest hole on the course today. I was happy with my bounce back on 11, where I hit a good drive and then a beautiful four iron to three feet and made the putt.”

Du Plessis broke through with his maiden Sunshine Tour victory in July’s SunBet Challenge Wild Coast Sun, closing with a strong 64 to win there. He followed this with a finish of tied third in the FNB eSwatini Challenge. But then came a run of three missed cuts as he made a few swing changes before this performance.

“I’ve been too inconsistent, but as soon as the conditions are tough I seem to play well which means my focus is in the correct place. The way I can control my ball flight in windy conditions really helps me because I’m able to hit it low. That was the key to my round. I picked the right flight on the ball depending on the wind direction.”

Tara Griebenow leads the Sunshine Ladies Tour professionals who are competing alongside the Sunshine Tour golfers for the same prize money for the first time in the history of Vodacom Origins of Golf series. She opened with a round of one over par. – Michael Vlismas