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8th February 2023

Dimension Data Pro-Am enters record new era of opportunity

GEORGE (Western Cape) – Record prize money of R7.3 million and increased European Challenge Tour points marks a new era for the Dimension Data Pro-Am when this prestigious co-sanctioned event tees off at Fancourt this week.

The Sunshine Tour field of 156 professionals will play the three courses of Montagu, Outeniqua and The Links for an increased purse of R7.3 million in their 72-hole tournament which tees off on Thursday, with the usual glittering array of former sports stars, celebrities and business leaders as their amateur partners including former Springboks Schalk Burger Jnr, Schalk Brits, Akona Ndungane and Odwa Ndungane, former Bafana Bafana footballer Jimmy Tau, singer Kurt Darren and comedian David Kau.

Dimension Data, in partnership with Standard Bank, have also increased the prize money for their Sunshine Ladies Tour event to R2.5 million, with 40 professionals competing over 54 holes alongside an equally star-studded list of amateurs. “This year we are committed to elevating women’s sport. This is something that we are passionate about addressing in 2023,” said Nompumelelo Mokou, Managing Director Southern Africa at Dimension Data.

As part of a strong South African Swing of four Challenge Tour events in February, the Dimension Data Pro-Am will this year feature increased points on the Road to Mallorca rankings of 2 750 points.

It’s a significant moment for a tournament that has a long history of excellence. Since its debut in 1996, the men’s event has seen victories by Major winners such as Nick Price, Trevor Immelman, Darren Clarke, Retief Goosen, Louis Oosthuizen and Paul Lawrie. Recently it has also helped to launch the careers of South Africa’s next generation of stars such as Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Wilco Nienaber.

The women’s tournament has a list of past champions including Lee-Anne Pace, Nobuhle Dlamini, Nicole Garcia, Stacy Bregman and Lejan Lewthwaite.

“The Dimension Data Pro-Am is one of our most important tournaments in both legacy and inclusion through its celebration of and commitment to the men’s and women’s game on the Sunshine Tour and Sunshine Ladies Tour, and we’re privileged to have Dimension Data as a longstanding sponsor and partner who shares our vision to keep driving the game forward and create opportunities for our professionals,” said Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour.

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5th February 2023

Follett-Smith enjoys a double in Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open

CAPE TOWN – Zimbabwe’s Benjamin Follett-Smith became only the second player to win two Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open titles when he claimed a one-stroke victory at Royal Cape Golf Club on Sunday.

In windy conditions and with a group of players vying for the lead coming down the back nine, Follett-Smith closed with a 70 to win on 15 under par and add to his 2019 victory in this tournament. He joins JC Ritchie as the only two-time winners of this tournament.

“I’m so happy to be a two-time winner on the Sunshine Tour. I think the second time you win is when you really prove yourself. Cape Town is such a special place and I love coming back to this golf course. I feel very at home here,” said Follett-Smith, who also claimed his second Sunshine Tour title and his first on the European Challenge Tour, who co-sanction this tournament.

Follett-Smith went into Sunday’s final round tied for the lead with Darren Fichardt. At one stage he was locked in a battle with five players who were tied for the lead on 14 under par on the back nine. Follett-Smith broke free of that group with his birdie on the 14th for a one-stroke lead on 15 under par.

On the par-four 17th, he flew the green with his approach and was in danger of slipping back into a four-way tie for the lead. But the Zimbabwean produced a touch of magic with his incredible up-and-down for par to retain a lead he carried through to victory.

“That up-and-down on 17 was the key to the win. I thought I’d hit the second shot perfectly but the wind combined with adrenalin took it over the green. I’m glad the wind picked up in the final round, though, because that’s where I’m good. When there were so many players vying for the lead, my caddie just said to let the guys run and fight each other and we just do what we normally do. I’m just so grateful to have won,” he said.

The gratitude stems from the the hard work Follett-Smith has put in over the past two years to get to this point.

“The last two years were a big learning curve for me. It’s been difficult and I’m just so happy to have won again. It’s been a lot of hard work. I came out on tour and was Rookie of the Year and won in my first year, and everything was kind of simple. But I’ve figured out you just need to keep working hard every week. I’ve been confident in the work I’ve been doing and what my game is capable of.”

Ugo Coussaud and Jaco van Zyl shared second place on 14 under par. – Michael Vlismas

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4th February 2023

Fichardt and Follett-Smith chasing glory in Cape Town

CAPE TOWN – Darren Fichardt and Benajmin Follett-Smith share the lead going into Sunday’s final round of the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open at Royal Cape Golf Club, and each with a strong desire to turn the lessons of last year into an early victory in 2023.

Fichardt’s 62 in beautiful weather on Saturday equalled the course record of Andrew Georgiou, but with placing in effect. Northern Ireland’s Tom McKibbin also shot 62 in this tournament last year, and also with placing.

It was a magnificent round in which Fichardt was seven under through his first seven holes as he went out in 29, and it lifted the veteran campaigner to 13 under par overall. He was later joined there by Follett-Smith, the 2019 champion in this tournament, who signed for a 67 on Saturday.

They are one stroke clear of Dylan Mostert who carded a third-round 68, while Manuel Elvira and Jaco van Zyl ended the day on 11 under par.

Fichardt was delighted with a performance which he feels accurately reflects just how comfortable he feels with his game at present.

“I started with three consecutive birdies and I just carried that momentum and was in the zone. Then after the two birdies and an eagle I just felt like, ‘Here we go’. I had that tunnel vision. The swing was good and I knew if I was within 15 feet of the hole on the green I was putting well enough to have a chance. I just felt very comfortable and just let it happen,” he said, giving himself the perfect start to a year in which he has high hopes for his game.

“I had a very long year last year. I played 34 events out in Europe and travelled a lot and midway through the year I was burning out. But I learnt a lot about myself. I almost like to call it Summer Camp because I fixed a lot of areas of my game where I was struggling. I took a long break now in December and just carried that technique over to this year with a fresher mind. It’s pretty exciting. I’m looking forward to what lies ahead.”

Follett-Smith has been on a similar search for improvement and is looking forward to testing himself as part of the final group on Sunday.

“I’m very pleased with the way I played today. There was no wind so it was easier to attack the flags, and then I putted really well. I was trying to figure out why Darren was looking so cheerful on the eighth hole and then I found out he was seven under par through seven holes. I think that realisation pushed us all along. The better everyone is playing, the better you have to play. I like this golf course. You just need to have a good short game here and usually that’s where I’m strong,” he said. – Michael Vlismas

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3rd February 2023

Van Zyl leads into weekend at Royal Cape

CAPE TOWN – Jaco van Zyl heads into the weekend of the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open with a one-stroke lead and a feeling he’s looking forward to building on over the next two rounds at Royal Cape Golf Club.

“It’s the first time in years where I’m really happy with all 14 clubs in my bag,” said Van Zyl, who lost in a four-man playoff for the inaugural Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open title in 2012.

Van Zyl put together a composed and bogey-free 65 to take the lead on nine under par in this Sunshine Tour and European Challenge Tour co-sanctioned tournament on Friday.

He is one stroke clear of 2019 Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open champion Benjamin Follett-Smith who signed for a second round of 68, the in-form Dylan Mostert who also put together a bogey-free 65 in Friday’s windy conditions, and England’s Ashley Chesters who carded a 67.

It’s been a tough climb for Van Zyl, a 16-time winner on the Sunshine Tour who has won three South African PGA Championship titles and also represented South Africa at the Olympic Games but who through a range of injuries has struggled to regain that form.

His win in last September’s Gary and Vivienne Player Challenge ended a six-year win drought on the Sunshine Tour.

“I’ve been struggling for so long and I just had to try and build my self-confidence and self-belief. I’ve been playing really nicely for a while now and a round like this definitely helps that process,” he said.

What also helps is a Royal Cape course that plays to his strengths.

“This golf course really suits me. You don’t need to hit it miles off the tee and you need to think your way around here. It’s the oldest golf course in the country and it’s right up my alley. It’s just one of those great golf courses. You don’t have much into the greens but it still makes you think. Even if you hit your approach to 15 feet, if it’s in the wrong spot on the greens there are no guarantees.”

With plenty of experience to draw on, Van Zyl is well aware his job is only halfway done.

“It’s always nice to be in this position. We’re only halfway now but it’s nice to have the lead.” – Michael Vlismas

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2nd February 2023

Harvey leads SA challenge in Cape Town

CAPE TOWN –A rare change of equipment benefitted South Africa’s Jared Harvey as he opened with a five-under-par 67 that placed him one stroke off the lead of Spain’s Manuel Elvira after Thursday’s first round of the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open at Royal Cape Golf Club.

Harvey was delighted with a bogey-free start to this Sunshine Tour and European Challenge Tour co-sanctioned tournament following a round that started in calm conditions and finished in a stiff breeze.

“There was no breeze when we teed off early this morning, but it definitely picked up as the round went on and it was tricky at a stage. I also changed clubs recently which was a big thing for me. I’m not much of a changer. So to have no bogeys does give me confidence,” said Harvey.

At the top of the leaderboard, Elvira also took advantage of the calmer morning conditions and produced a bogey-free 66 which he closed off with three consecutive birdies over the final three holes.

“It’s always nice to start the season with a low round. It’s completely different golf here now in South Africa compared with Spain in the winter. I’ve come from four or five degrees Celsius to 25 degrees. But I’ve always liked playing in the heat because you don’t have to wear layers of clothes. It’s a big adjustment but it’s nice,” he said.

England’s Bradley Bawden joined Harvey with a round of 67. Former Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open champions Brandon Stone and Benjamin Follett-Smith both started well with rounds of four-under-par 68, while another pair of former champions in Rhys Enoch and Jacques Kruyswijk are five strokes off the lead.

It was certainly a case of the morning field having a distinct advantage. But as Harvey explained, it was also a surprise to tee off at a windstill Royal Cape.

“When you tee off so early and it’s calm, it’s almost a shock to the system. It can be tough because you’re so used to playing in the breeze here and playing those punch shots. So I felt like I needed to take advantage early on.

“When the wind picked up, there were a couple of tough flags tucked behind corners and downwind, and I just felt they really weren’t flags to go for. I just stayed within myself and kept telling myself that it’s not a bad thing to play for the middle of the green and keep the round together. I managed my game really well. On the holes where I could attack, I did. I feel like the course suits me with the demand on accuracy off the tee.”

The opening day was also a rewarding one for England’s Alfie Plant who scored the first hole-in-one of this year’s tournament on the par-three 13th on his way to a four-under-par 68. – Michael Vlismas

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1st February 2023

Sunshine Tour pros eye Challenge Tour glory

CAPE TOWN – The Sunshine Tour tees off its first tournament of 2023 in this week’s Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open at the Royal Cape Golf Club. It marks the start of a four-week stretch of tournaments co-sanctioned with the European Challenge Tour, and with South Africa’s Dylan Mostert amongst those looking forward to taking advantage of the opportunity on offer.

The left hander finished off 2022 with finishes of 18th in the Joburg Open and fourth in the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, both co-sanctioned with the DP World Tour. That was on the back of a ninth-place finish in the South African PGA Championship.

It’s a run of form that’s lifted him into sixth place on the Sunshine Tour’s Luno Order of Merit, and he’s looking to build on this momentum, starting in Cape Town this week.

“I can’t wait for these next four weeks. I’m excited and ready to go. I had some good time off after a very long stretch towards the end of last year. I think the most pleasing aspect of my form has been the consistency. I’ve worked very hard to become more consistent during tournaments and in different conditions and on different golf courses. It’s been really pleasing for me to see that paying off,” said Mostert.

A number of South African professionals have recently used the Sunshine Tour’s partnership with the Challenge Tour to take their careers to the next level and ultimately secure a place on the main DP World Tour.

Mostert’s game has been on the rise ever since he broke through with his maiden Sunshine Tour victory in the KitKat Group Pro-Am last June, and he’s certainly aware of the reward if he does well over this four-week stretch.

“I’ve put myself in a nice position and I’ll just keep my head focused on my goals and keep pushing forward,” he said.

The historic Royal Cape Golf Club also suits his eye.

“This is just a great golf course. You’ve got to be good off the tee here. I’ve been hitting my driver well so hopefully that plays in my favour. But it’s just a great golf course that tests all aspects of your game, and then you can add the wind to that. It will be a good test.”

Jaco Prinsloo, currently ranked fourth on the Sunshine Tour Luno Order of Merit, is equally excited about what this next four weeks will bring, especially after his ninth-place finish in last December’s Investec South African Open.

“I have goals and things I want to accomplish, but I’m taking it one step at a time and just trying to do my job every day. Expectation can be a dangerous word. I feel like if I just do the basics well then the goals and results should follow. So I’m just keeping it simple.”

This week’s tournament also marks the start of the Sunshine Tour’s new competition offering golf fans the opportunity to test their skills and see if they can beat a professional in a par-three shootout under tournament conditions.

Any golf fan over the age of 18 can enter by purchasing a ticket to attend one of 10 selected Sunshine Tour events, including this week’s Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open. And then 10 lucky fans will be selected to take on the professionals on the par-three eighth hole at Royal Cape Golf Club during Sunday’s final round, and see if they can finish closest to the pin. The winner earns a place in the grand final at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open later this year, where the overall champion will win an all-expenses paid trip to the Major of his or her choice in 2024.
– Michael Vlismas

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Sunshine Tour announces new partnership with SA Tourism 

SA Tourism has joined the list of exclusive partners to the Sunshine Tour and will tee off this relationship during the upcoming international Challenge Tour co-sanctioned tournaments in South Africa, beginning with this week’s Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open at Royal Cape Golf Club.

As the official tourism marketing division of the South African government, SA Tourism’s partnership brings a significant enhancement to the already extensive positioning of South Africa on the global stage through the Sunshine Tour schedule and its international tournaments on the Challenge Tour and DP World Tour, with a broadcast reach of millions of homes worldwide.

The Sunshine Tour supports the tourism objectives of SA Tourism through the weekly exposure of hundreds of professional golfers, caddies and their families to the country and which in turn stimulates the local economy in communities where tournaments are played.

“The Sunshine Tour is a major driver of tourism and awareness of South Africa and its wonders through our nationwide tournaments and extensive international broadcast reach at our flagship events. Every week our tournaments showcase another incredible part of South Africa, from our major cities and world-class golf courses to our rich natural wonders,” said Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour.

“The partnership with SA Tourism completes this offering and we look forward to helping them promote South Africa as not only a tourism destination, but also a leading sports destination.”:

Photo: Sunshine Tour professional Jake Roos at this week’s Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open. Roos won the inaugural tournament in 2012. Credit: Carl Fourie/Sunshine Tour.

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31st January 2023

Bok legend full of praise as Cape Town opens its arms to world golf

CAPE TOWN – Springbok rugby legend Francois Pienaar echoed the sentiments of all who took part in the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open Pro-Am on Tuesday against the backdrop of the magnificent Table Mountain and under brilliant blue skies at Royal Cape Golf Club, as he sang the praises of a city he calls home.

“I love this place. It has so much to offer,” said Pienaar as he joined a host of other luminaries in the pro-am before Thursday’s first round of this Sunshine Tour and Challenge Tour co-sanctioned tournament, which has drawn an international field of 156 professionals.

“Early this morning, my wife and I went for a walk on the promenade, then up the glen and back over Lion’s Head – it’s just stunningly beautiful. Then to drive out here to play golf on a magnificent golf course ahead of what is looking like it’s going to be a fantastic tournament again this year is a privilege. I don’t take it for granted. I feel absolutely blessed.”

It was a feeling shared by Welshman Rhys Enoch, a former Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open champion.

“Cape Town is a special place for anyone, really. As I drove from the airport yesterday I was thinking that this is my ninth time here and every time it still feels just as incredible driving in and seeing Table Mountain. The weather is fantastic, and this old golf course is beautiful and in exceptional condition this year. It’s just a special vibe here for everyone. All the golfers are always excited about what the city offers. The whole event is special.”

For Sunshine Tour professional Jaco Prinsloo, who has travelled the world over the past few months, Cape Town represents a kind of homecoming for him.

“It’s a beautiful place and it’s always lovely to be here. The golf course is in great condition and it’s just always a treat coming to Cape Town. The last couple of months I’ve travelled all over the world and it’s just so nice to come back here. It’s not my home in South Africa but it just feels like home. You hear Afrikaans and it’s just a beautiful place. I love coming here.”

It’s the kind of feedback that puts a smile on the face of Councillor Mzwahke Nqavashe, the City of Cape Town Portfolio Chairperson, Safety and Security.

“Cape Town is welcoming. It’s named the Mother City for a reason. It’s welcoming and warm. This is the second year of our three-year agreement with this tournament and our investment is yielding results. This is an international tournament that contributes so much to our economic growth with the high quality of players its brings here. Through its broadcast reach we are watched all over the world. The City of Cape Town is competing with the best cities in the world, and through hosting major international sports events it shows that Cape Town has that event pedigree and can lead the way.” – Michael Vlismas

  • Springbok rugby legend Francois Pienaar was amongst the luminaries who took part in the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open Pro-Am at the Royal Cape Golf Club on Tuesday. Credit: Carl Fourie/Sunshine Tour.
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30th January 2023

Think you can Beat the Pro? Well, prove it!

If you think you’re better than the pros, now is the time to prove it.

The Sunshine Tour is offering golf fans a unique opportunity to prove you’re as good as you think you are and take on the professionals in a par-three shootout at any one of 10 official Sunshine Tour events on the schedule for the chance to win a trip to the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open and then the ultimate prize of an all-expenses paid trip to one of golf’s four Majors in 2024.

That’s a once-in-a-lifetime shot at golf glory against an elite professional in a Sunshine Tour event.

Any golf fan over the age of 18 can enter by purchasing a ticket on the Sunshine Tour website for one of the 10 qualifying tournaments.

And then you need to Beat the Pro in a closest to the pin challenge on a par three. In tournament conditions. Under tournament pressure.

There will be 10 aspiring stars competing in each event, which will take place during the fourth round of each Sunshine Tour tournament. Did we mention the in-tournament pressure?

If none of the 10 amateurs manages to beat the professional, then the closest to the pin amongst the 10 amateurs will win that event and an all-expenses paid VIP trip for two to the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, where you will again compete against the other nine champions for the ultimate prize of a trip to attend a Major in 2024.

So golf fans, glove up, pitch up, and show us what you’ve got against the best on the Sunshine Tour.

To enter go to www.sunshinetour.com

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24th January 2023

The Score with Keith Horne

The Score is the Sunshine Tour’s Player Blog.

Keith Horne reflects on his regular career on the Sunshine Tour, and a new phase in his life after winning the Legends Tour Qualifying School and earning his card there.

I’m more relieved than anything else after winning the Legends Tour Qualifying School. I’ve had lots of messages from my family and friends. It’s a big relief to get it done. I’ve had a lot of support and I’m just glad I didn’t let anybody down. I really want to thank everybody for their support.

Turning 50 kind of just sneaks up on you. You get so busy playing, and I’ve been so busy traveling around the world. So many people slow down when they’re in their early 40s, and I’ve been fortunate to keep playing around the world. So I wouldn’t even have blinked at turning 50. I would’ve kept going and there wouldn’t have been a change of gear. I suppose only Covid-19 forced me to sit back and reflect a bit on it. Otherwise, it’s not something I would’ve even considered.

I was pretty bad when I turned pro. I was working as Hugh Baiocchi’s apprenctice at Prince’s Grant because I had no intention of turning pro. I believed I wasn’t good enough. So I’d play a few Sunshine Tour events for fun. But it was only in 1997 that for some reason I decided to turn pro fulltime. I was 27 then. That’s why when I hit 35, I felt like I was only beginning to learn my craft while other pros my age maybe felt tired with their careers. I was only just getting excited and feeling properly competitive.

I’m pretty hard on myself, and a fear of failure was my biggest drive. I don’t like to fail. I work from the bottom up. It’s good in one sense, and bad in another. I’m petrified of failing so I’ve pushed myself every day. I played at Royal Durban and they had Warren Abery, Bradley Davison, Rory and Gary Sabbitini, and I was number five in my club side. I wasn’t a superstar. I had zero success as an amateur. But I loved golf. So looking back at how I started and to think I’m still here playing the game for a living, then I’d like to think it’s been a pretty good career.

It took me a long time to feel competitive worldwide. It was a very hard grind after that first win. I had no sponsor backing. I had qualified as a labour lawyer, but I had no desire to go that route. Somehow I managed to always find the extra gear just to keep going. And then came what was clearly a defining moment in my career. It turned my whole career around. It was the 2004 dunhill championship at Houghton Golf Club. I was completely broke. My wife, Karen, is lying in bed next to me pregnant with our first child. I was having anxiety attacks and playing the worst golf ever. Then on the Monday of the dunhill championship, Karen asked me if I would go and see a hypnotist. I thought it was a crazy idea, but I was so desperate I would’ve gone to see a witchdoctor if I thought it would help. So I went to see him in Bedfordview on the Wednesday before the tournament. All he did was teach me to relax and meditate and visualise good shots. That’s one thing I’m very good at –  visualisation. So I related to it immediately. I shot 73 in the first round, but I felt great. I felt like a different human being and felt more in control of my game and myself. The next day I shot 67 and made the cut by one shot. I felt like a millionaire. Then on the Saturday I shot 63 and was leading early in the day before the rest of the field went out. And on the last day I got it going a bit but then got a bit nervous and shot 71. But I finished tied 14th and made close to R100 000. And that was it. I finished tied 10th in the Dimension Data Pro-Am, third in the Nashua Masters and third in the Tour Championship after that. And I was on my way. It was a huge turning point for me. If it didn’t turn out like that, I would’ve given up that year for sure. Once I got the bit between my teeth I really enjoyed it. I achieved things for me that I never thought possible.

I still feel like I haven’t reached my potential. I still feel like I have so much to achieve. I try and take time off, but I can’t. I love to play. I’ll play on my own if I have to. I enjoy competing and playing. A few years ago I played with Ernie (Els) in the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open. Ernie was one of my idols. But the biggest thing that struck me when we played together is how much he enjoyed playing golf. He loves playing tournament golf. That was a revelation for me. I think I’m the same in my pure enjoyment of just playing this game. – Michael Vlismas