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26th May 2024

Maiden Sunshine Tour win for Vincent in KitKat Cash & Carry Pro-Am

CENTURION – The solid plan and clinical execution of Kieran Vincent made sure that any dreams of a challenge to him would be still-born as the Zimbabwean cruised to a four-shot victory in the KitKat Cash & Carry Pro-Am at Irene Country Club on Sunday.

Vincent went into the final round tied for the lead on 15-under-par with James Mack, and there were 11 other golfers within five shots. But the 26-year-old gave them no chance as he fired a brilliant, bogey-free six-under-par 66 on Sunday to finish on 21-under and clinch a comfortable victory.

Vincent picked up his first birdie at the par-four sixth hole and the turn was fertile territory for him as he then reeled off a hat-trick of birdies from the ninth to 11th holes. Vincent sank a superb 40ft putt for birdie on the par-five 10th, and then hit an equally excellent approach to a foot on the par-four 11th to pick up another shot.

The likes of Malcolm Mitchell and Jacques Blaauw did appear briefly in his rearview mirror, but Vincent settled the deal with birdies on the last two holes.

“It hasn’t quite sunk in yet, but I’m here on an invite so I’m super-grateful to KitKat Cash & Carry for this opportunity,” Vincent said.

“I’m very excited because we did a lot of good things today and a lot of hard work has gone into making this first professional win with my caddie Alec a reality. To have my mother and sister in the crowd was also so special.

“Any time you win, it’s a huge boost, wherever it is. I have a long season ahead and there’s still a lot of work to do.”

Vincent is hoping part of that long season will be the Olympic Games tournament in Paris, and his golf in the first two events of the new Sunshine Tour season – he finished tied-fourth in the FBC Zim Open – certainly fits the bill in terms of climbing the world rankings. He was number 439 in the world coming to Irene Country Club, but he is the leading Zimbabwean in the rankings.

“I’m not sure if I’m 100% there yet, but playing good golf will take care of that itself,” Vincent said.
Vincent was stalked by Mitchell on the front nine, with the latter reaching the turn in four-under to be just a stroke behind at one stage. But a double-bogey on the par-three 13th and another dropped shot on the 14th were crucial lapses by Mitchell.

Blaauw also legged it up the leaderboard with a round of 67 that included just one bogey, finishing in third place on 16-under-par.

Mack struggled to a 73 on Sunday and finished on 14-under-par, in a tie for sixth.

The team competition of the KitKat Cash & Carry Pro-Am finished in a tie between Team B & H Sugar and Kitten Soft with 96 points each. They earned themselves a JVC 65-inch 4K Smart TV and a Mont Blanc pen.

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25th May 2024

Vincent and Mack lead race to KitKat Cash & Carry Pro-Am glory

CENTURION – Kieran Vincent holed a putt for eagle after driving the green on the par-four 15th hole and then birdied two of the last three holes to grab a share of the lead after the third round of the KitKat Cash & Carry Pro-Am at Irene Country Club on Saturday.

Vincent’s brilliant finish saw him come home in six-under-par 30 on the back nine, lifting him to a 67 in the penultimate round, and 15-under-par overall, tied for the lead with James Mack, who could only shoot level-par 72 on Saturday.

Vincent was in a tie for third going into the weekend, fully five strokes behind Mack, and a double-bogey at the par-four third hole and a bogey at the par-three seventh saw the Zimbabwean reach the turn on one-over-par and seemingly left with a mountain to climb to catch Mack.

But the 26-year-old Vincent birdied the par-four 11th and 14thholes, before his stunning drive on the 308m 15th set up the eagle that catapulted him up the leaderboard.

Dropped shots on the 12th, 14th and 16th holes were the pivot for Mack being caught by Vincent, but the 25-year-old England-based South African still managed to shoot level-par in the end thanks to a birdie-birdie finish, having earlier picked up shots on the 11th and 15th holes.

KZN’s Martin Rohwer was in second place after the first two rounds, but he slipped back into a tie for third on Saturday after a one-over-par round of 73 left him on 12-under, alongside Englishman Joe Long (67) and Portugal’s Stephen Ferreira (69).

Another KZN golfer, Malcolm Mitchell, surged up the leaderboard on Saturday with a seven-under 65 lifting him to 11-under-par, sharing sixth place with fellow South Africans Stefan Wears-Taylor (68), Jacques Blaauw (69) and Rupert Kaminski (71).

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24th May 2024

Mack leading the charge at Irene Country Club

CENTURION – The second round of the KitKat Cash & Carry Pro-Am at Irene Country Club was James Mack’s time to shine as the 25-year-old fired a spectacular 10-under-par 62 on Friday to claim a two-stroke lead in the R2 million Sunshine Tour event.

Mack began the second day two strokes off the lead but birdied the first and second holes to immediately close that deficit. He then birdied four successive holes from the seventh to the 10th and then also gained a shot on the par-four 12th. Further birdies on the 15th, 17th and 18th holes sealed his phenomenal round and saw him overtake Martin Rohwer at the top of the leaderboard on 15-under-par.

Rohwer followed up his 66 in the first round with a seven-under-par 65 on Friday, taking him to 13-under. He collected nine birdies but had a double-bogey on the par-four fifth hole.

Mack’s bogey-free round was his lowest ever on tour and represents a fine comeback from missing the cut in the season’s opening event, the FBC Zim Open.

Rohwer birdied the par-five second hole but then made a six on the par-four fifth hole. But the Country Club Johannesburg golfer was then able to ease his way to four successive birdies from the seventh, and, after a birdie on the par-four 14th he enjoyed a great finish as he birdied the last three holes.

Zimbabwean visitor Kieran Vincent was in third place after shooting a 67 to reach 10-under-par, sharing that spot with Rupert Kaminski, who posted a bogey-free 66.

First-round leaders Gerhard Pepler (75 for four-under) and Leon Vorster slid down the leaderboard on Friday. Pepler stumbled to a 75 and finished the second round on four-under-par, while Vorster shot an 80 and missed the cut on one-over-par.

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Pepler ‘zones in’ onKitKat Cash & Carry Pro-Am lead

CENTURION – The bold and exciting approach of Gerhard Pepler and the controlled, clinical golf of Leon Vorster had the same outcome on Thursday as they both shot outstanding 65s in the first round of the KitKat Cash & Carry Pro-Am at the beautiful rural setting of the Irene Country Club to share the lead on seven-under-par.

Both golfers began their rounds on the 10th hole and Vorster made a strong birdie-birdie start. The 27-year-old would collect further birdies on the par-four 15th and par-five 17th holes to reach the turn in a faultless four-under 32.

Pepler’s round made for vivid reading: He had birdied the 10th and then made three pars as he reached the 432m par-four 14th, which he triple-bogeyed for a seven having gone out-of-bounds off the tee. He immediately rebounded by driving the 308m par-four 15thand sinking a 10-foot putt for eagle.

The representative of Mogol Golf Club in Lephalele (Ellisras) then sank a superb 20-foot downhill, double-breaking putt for birdie on the par-three 16th, before a tremendous drive on the par-five 17thleft him with just 122m in and he hit a sand-wedge to two-and-half metres for another eagle. A birdie at the par-four 18th meant Pepler was also out in 32.

The 24-year-old also started the front nine in rollercoaster fashion, going birdie-bogey-birdie, but he then settled down with a string of pars before finishing strong with birdies on the eighth and ninth holes.

“I must admit I was mentally tired after that stretch on the back nine,” Pepler said.

“On 14 my plan beforehand had been to hit a punchy, cut Driver but then on the tee-box I decided to take a two-iron and I hit it straight right into the cows. I just don’t like that hole, I always just see the out-of-bounds on the right and my third was almost out-of-bounds again, but it hit a tree. I then chipped out and two-putted for the seven.

“So I was angry after that and I took my two-iron again on 15, it pitched front-edge and ran to 10 feet from the hole. I said to my caddie that we can still turn level-par, but I guess I was just in the zone. After my bogey on the second – my approach was probably my worst shot of the round, on to the road and into the hazard – I was just determined not to lose any more of what I had gained on the front nine,” Pepler said.

Vorster made a grand start to his back nine by birdieing the first and second holes, and birdies on the sixth and ninth holes made up for a bogey on the par-three fourth hole. The Parys Golf and Country Estate representative is not just using his triumph last month on the Altron Big Easy Tour as his door into the Sunshine Tour, but also carrying through the confidence he gained by winning the final of that feeder tour at nearby Blue Valley Golf and Country Estate.

Stefan Wears-Taylor was one shot off the lead after shooting a 66. The Centurion Country Club golfer also began his round on the 10thand reached the turn in one-under, but he would tear through the front-nine in five-under 31.

Martin Rohwer also finished on the front nine, and came home in 32 to join Wears-Taylor in the tie for second on six-under-par.

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12th May 2024

Hollick bags second Sunshine Tour title with FBC Zim Open win

HARARE – Michael Hollick kept the door firmly closed on prolific winner Darren Fichardt on Sunday as he shot an impressive final-round 67 to win the FBC Zim Open by two strokes at Royal Harare Golf Club, claiming his second Sunshine Tour title.

The Mount Edgecombe Country Club golfer and Fichardt, the 48-year-old with 18 Sunshine Tour titles and five on the DP World Tour, engaged in a tense final round, last two-ball duel on Sunday, with Hollick starting the fourth round with a one-stroke lead.

But with Hollick showing incredible composure and control, he never allowed the vastly-experienced Fichardt to get ahead. Hollick, who turns 37 on Wednesday, had opened up a three-shot lead by the fourth hole, but, unsurprisingly given his pedigree, Fichardt staged a fierce late charge that saw him close the gap to just one stroke on the 16th green.

Fichardt, who birdied the par-five 16th, would have drawn level but for Hollick sinking a clutch 30-foot par-putt. The Durban resident then birdied the 17th to go two ahead and almost certainly quell Fichardt’s challenge.

“Thanks to Darren for a helluva battle, well-played and we certainly had a good go at each other out there,” Hollick said at the prizegiving.

Fichardt closed with a 68, recovering from a bogey at the par-three second hole with three successive birdies from the fifth to the seventh hole. He dropped another shot at the par-three 11th, as did Hollick, and they both rebounded with birdies on the par-five 12th. Fichardt then began to push really hard with birdies on the par-three 15th and on 16, but Hollick held his nerve and repelled his admirable adversary.

Hollick showed his maturity on the front nine as he started patiently with three pars before embarking on his own hat-trick of birdies from the fourth to the sixth hole. He gained another shot on Fichardt with his birdie on the par-four 10th and, apart from the par-save on 16, he also showed his BMT with a superb approach to four feet to set up his crucial birdie on the penultimate hole.

Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent also shot a 68 on Sunday to climb into third place on the final leaderboard on 14-under-par, six behind Hollick. His younger brother, Kieran, shot a 71 to finish in a tie for fourth with Sweden’s Fredrik From (67) on 12-under.

A third Zimbabwean finished in the top-10 in Benjamin Follett-Smith (71), who shared sixth place with MJ Viljoen (71) on 11-under-par.

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11th May 2024

Hollick makes his move in ‘game of chess’ at Royal Harare

HARARE – The prices you pay for inaccuracy at the Royal Harare Golf Club are steep, but Michael Hollick continues to largely avoid that problem with his precise game taking him to the top of the leaderboard after the third and penultimate round of the FBC Zim Open on Saturday.

Hollick followed up his first two rounds of 66 and 67 with an impressive 68 in the third round, leaving him on 15-under-par and enjoying a one-stroke lead going into Sunday’s final round.

The one-time Sunshine Tour winner made a slow start on Saturday, with a bogey on the par-three second meaning he was one-over after four holes. But he then birdied the fifth and sixth holes, and began the back nine birdie-birdie. Hollick followed up a bogey on the par-three 15th with an eagle on the 16th, and then birdied 17 before dropping a shot on the last hole to halve his lead.

“This golf course is very demanding, there’s not a lot of room for error. You have to be accurate, it’s like a game of chess out there,” Hollick said. “The greens are super-quick, probably the fastest we play on all year and they are very firm now after three days.

“They’re also all elevated with run-offs and narrow entrances to the greens, so if you don’t hit your target then you’re unlikely to get up-and-down. But I’m definitely feeling good, the last few months have been good for me and success breeds confidence. My swing and my short game are good and I’m just sticking to my guns,” Hollick said.

While other golfers have found the back nine at Royal Harare Golf Club especially testing, Hollick’s cool and calm approach saw him prosper there on Saturday as he came home in 33 shots, one or two strokes less than anyone else in the top four.

“Of late, I’ve been making a bogey at the start of my round, but I’ve always been able to recover. I’m quite relaxed, so I just carry on, knowing a birdie is probably around the corner.

“On the back nine today, I hit all the fairways, except for 18, and hit some nice irons, which makes it much easier to get those birdies,” Hollick said.

The evergreen Darren Fichardt is the chief challenger to Hollick, his 69 on Saturday lifting him to 14-under-par. The 48-year-old had four birdies and three bogeys, but an eagle at the par-five sixth made all the difference.

Kieran Vincent is the chief home hope on 11-under-par after a 67, leaving him tied for third with Anthony Michael (71). But two more Zimbabweans, Benjamin Follett-Smith and Kieran’s older brother Scott are one shot further back, alongside MJ Viljoen (66).

Follett-Smith fired the low round of the day, a seven-under-par 65, and was five-under at the turn.

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10th May 2024

Memorable 62 earns Vorster lead at Royal Harare

HARARE – Martin Vorster was on a rock-solid two-under-par for his round after his first seven holes on Friday, but a raucous run around the turn in which he picked up four birdies and then an eagle helped catapult him to the top of the leaderboard after the second round of the FBC Zim Open at Royal Harare Golf Club.

The Mossel Bay representative began his round on the 10th hole and made another eagle on the par-five sixth hole before parring his way in for a phenomenal 62, his best ever round in his 52ndSunshine Tour event. That lifted Vorster to 12-under-par at the halfway mark of the R2.5 million event, one stroke ahead of Darren Fichardt (66) and Michael Hollick (67).

Vorster responded in style to a grungy first round that included four bogeys to offset six birdies. On Friday he made birdies at the 10th, 12th and 14th holes, before his only dropped shot, a four at the par-three 15th. But the 22-year-old then made sweet music with four straight birdies at 17, 18, one and two, before his eagle at the 475m par-three third.

Veteran Fichardt sounded a warning in the morning about his challenge, firing a six-under 66 that included eight birdies, being joined on 11-under-par by Hollick, who posted a 67 that included a good little run of his own when he birdied four successive holes from the fifth to the eighth.

Anthony Michael also shot a 67 to lie fourth on 10-under-par, while first-round leader Jaco Ahlers slipped back a bit with a 71 that left him on eight-under.

Kieran Vincent was the leading Zimbabwean as his 67 lifted him to six-under-par, alongside South Africans JC Ritchie (69) and Combrinck Smit (70) in the tie for sixth.

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9th May 2024

Patient Ahlers leads the charge in FBC Zim Open

HARARE – Jaco Ahlers has admitted to some frustration over how his 2024 has gone so far, but the 41-year-old put all that aside on Thursday as he roared around the Royal Harare Golf Club in seven-under-par to seize the lead after the first round of the FBC Zim Open.

Ahlers began the year with three missed cuts in his first four events spread between the Sunshine and Asian tours, but a runners-up finish in March in the Stella Artois Championship, finishing just a stroke behind winner Heinrich Bruiners at Dainfern, marked a change in fortunes. Since then he finished tied-10th at the Saudi Open and was tied-13th in the Waterfall City Tournament of Champions powered by Attacq last weekend at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington’s East Course.

On Thursday, Ahlers was in sublime form as he started his 2024/25 Sunshine Tour campaign in rampant fashion on the 10th hole and reeled off three straight birdies to get his brilliant round of 65 going. He picked up another shot on the par-four 17th and then eagled the par-five third hole. Although the world number 354 then bogeyed the fourth, he sealed a one-stroke lead with birdies on the seventh and eighth holes.

“It’s always nice to start that way, especially on the back nine here at Royal Harare, which is tougher, especially the greens, which are all raised,” Ahlers said.

“It’s difficult playing in this mid-year period because I play on the Asian Tour as well and that runs from January to December. This year has not been as good as I would have liked, but you just need to go on from there and today was a step in the right direction.

“Royal Harare suits me, it’s an old style course with big trees and dog-legs. The only way to play it is to be patient and not too aggressive,” Ahlers, who was tied-second in last year’s FBC Zim Open and fourth in 2022, said.

The highlight of Ahlers’ round was when he capitalised on a good drive on the 475m third hole and sent a searing six-iron to within six feet of the hole and sank the putt for eagle.

Michael Hollick is alone in second place on six-under-par after a 66 on Thursday. The Mount Edgecombe golfer reached the turn in one-under, but scorched through the back nine in just 31 strokes, with three successive birdies from the 11th hole, and further gains on the 16th and 18th holes.

There is a strong chasing pack of five golfers on five-under-par, comprising seasoned winners Jacques Blaauw and Darren Fichardt, Zimbabwe’s own Scott Vincent, the experienced Anthony Michael and former University of North Texas college golfer Jason Roets.

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5th May 2024

Albertse crowned champion of champions in Waterfall City Tournament of Champions powered by Attacq

JOHANNESBURG – Louis Albertse cruised to a seven-stroke victory in the inaugural Waterfall City Tournament of Champions powered by Attacq, and with it claimed the R1 million cheque for first place at Royal Johannesburg on Sunday.

Albertse played incredibly composed golf over the weekend, culminating in his final round of 64 to win on 23 under par 265.

“It’s been an unbelievable week. Golf is hard and it’s nice when you put in the work to get the result,” said Albertse.

Sunshine Ladies Tour professional Casandra Alexander and Welsh professional Rhys Enoch shared second place on 16 under par with respective final rounds of 68.

GolfRSA star and reigning Africa Amateur champion Altin van der Merwe finished as the leading amateur on eight under par.

This tournament was a celebration of the champions on the Sunshine Tour, Sunshine Ladies Tour and within South African amateur golf, and Albertse emerged as the champion of champions with a performance that picks up where he ended last season, finishing third on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit delivered by The Courier Guy with a win and nine top-10s.

“This game is so tough so the weeks that do go well you need to cherish and enjoy it. I’m extremely grateful. The performance has been great. The players in this tournament are all great and I knew what I needed to do. I didn’t put myself under too much pressure and I gave my putter a chance today. The R1 million is also welcome because golf is expensive.”

Alexander certainly impressed in her representation of South African women’s professional golf. Her 61 in the second round earned her the tournament lead going into the weekend and she did her best to push Albertse on the final day.

And as part of the showcase of the strength and depth throughout the South African golf fraternity, David Watts and Daniel Slabbert shared first place in the separate competition held for the South African Disabled Golf Association (SADGA).

Watts and Slabbert both finished on four over par. Watts signed for successive rounds of 74, while Slabbert posted rounds of 70 and 78.

“We are so excited at the outcome of this tournament. The fans and the players really supported the tournament. Our goal for this tournament was to create heroes for the next generation, and the support of Waterfall City and Attacq has been instrumental in this,” said Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour. – Michael Vlismas.

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4th May 2024

Albertse digs deep to lead Waterfall City Tournament of Champions powered by Attacq

JOHANNESBURG – Louis Albertse kept his composure on a day when he admitted he wasn’t at his best and still managed to claim a three-stroke lead heading into Sunday’s final round of the Waterfall City Tournament of Champions powered by Attacq.

Albertse signed for a 68 on the composite nine-hole layout at Royal Johannesburg’s East Course to lead the field on 15 under par, and also lead the chase for the R1 million in prize money for first place this weekend.

His nearest challengers are Welshman Rhys Enoch and Sunshine Ladies Tour campaigner Casandra Alexander on 12 under par following their respective rounds of 66 and 73.

Alexander started the round with a two-stroke lead following her impressive 61 on Friday. But she couldn’t find that same momentum on Saturday, which opened the door for Albertse.

Yet he also struggled early on with two bogeys in his opening four holes. It was a key stretch of three birdies in five holes thereafter that gave him the lead. There was another bogey and two birdies on the back nine, but it was the eagle on the par-five 18th that finally gave him some breathing room at the top of the leaderboard.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better score to be honest. I didn’t play my best. I wasn’t in the right positions and just had to fight, but I’m really pleased to get away with a score like this,” said Albertse.

With a past Sunshine Tour season that saw him finish as one of the most consistent professionals on the Tour with a victory and nine top-10s, Albertse clearly had the experience to still carve out a lead despite not having his best game with him.

“It’s very tough and I feel like that’s a big part of this game, just like chipping and putting and anything else. It’s really about trying to stay in the moment. I was two over par at one stage and if you start thinking too far ahead it can get even worse, so I just tried to focus on the next shot.”

GolfRSA’s Ivan Verster is the leading amateur going into the final round on nine under par. – Michael Vlismas.