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21st November 2022

Detry adds his name to 2022 AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open field

Belgium’s Thomas Detry, one of the most exciting new stars on the PGA Tour, has confirmed his place in a quality field for the 2022 AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open at Mont Choisy Le Golf from 15-18 December.

The 29-year-old Detry will join fellow PGA Tour campaigner Dean Burmester, DP World Tour champions George Coetzee, Brandon Stone and Antoine Rozner, Matthieu Pavon who finished second in this event in 2018, the big-hitting Wilco Nienaber, and former European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjørn.

Detry heads to Mauritius at the end of a strong year for the young professional in which he finished in the top-12 in three of the five PGA Tour events he played in his rookie season there – including second place in the Butterfield Bermuda Championship – and also had six top-15 finishes on the DP World Tour. He challenged for the title in the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City before finishing tied 13th.

This will be Detry’s second appearance in the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open after he finished tied fourth in 2019, and he continues a tradition of young stars who had success in this tournament during their global rise in the game. The last two winners of the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open – Rasmus Højgaard and Kurt Kitayama – have both been at the forefront of the new generation of professionals on the DP World Tour and PGA Tour.

The 2022 AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open returns to the Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour schedules for the first time since 2019 following the Covid-19 pandemic and has drawn a glittering array of blue-chip sponsors including Beachcomber Resorts & Hotels, Mont Choisy Group, Jaguar, Rogers, Heritage Resorts, IBL, the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA), 3G Mobile, Phoenix Beverages, Air Mauritius, Mautourco, Fenix XCell Apparel, Hertz, Jacobs, C-Care, Emtel and PRO CARTS.

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20th November 2022

Player overwhelmed as millions raised for Blair Atholl school

SUN CITY, North West – At the foot of the great elephant Shawu in The Palace of the Lost City stood a great South African. Gary Player held back the tears as he thanked a gathering of Sunshine Tour professionals, sports stars, business leaders and friends for the role they have played in the inaugural Gary and Vivienne Player Invitational and for the over R3 million raised for charity.

The longstanding tournament entered a new era this year under the Gary and Vivienne Player Foundation and its drive to raise funds to ensure the financial sustainability of the Blair Atholl Pre-Primary School that the Players started on their farm over three decades ago.

It is a journey of golf and giving that Player and his wife Vivienne began together many years ago, and one he now continues on his own with a dedicated team following her passing from cancer last year.

At the age of 87, Player remains as committed as ever to ensure that his legacy is more than just his greatness in golf.

“I was blessed to hold my wife in my arms when she passed. Some of her last words to me were, ‘Gary, don’t forget those kids at Blair Atholl’. I had so many wonderful years with Vivienne and I left the table having had a feast. My own life has been an epic journey. All of us will have adversity in our lives, and if you can overcome it with courage, patience and love you will prosper in the end. When people ask me, ‘What is your legacy?’, they all think it’s golf. My legacy is not golf. It’s that through golf and through our foundation, we’ve raised over $100 million for underprivileged people. That is my legacy,” said Player.

The 36-hole tournament came to a close at the Lost City Golf Course on Sunday and was won on a count-out by the team of Sunshine Tour professional Brooklin Bailey, former Bafana Bafana star Mark Fish and businessmen Anthony Phillips and Ashok Pundit on a total of 187 points.

“It’s been a dream of mine to get trophies handed to me from the greats in the game. It’s just so special to be handed a trophy from one of the greats such as Gary Player. He’s an absolute legend and he’s done so much for golf and through his philanthropy. It was a truly special experience,” said Bailey.

Photo (from left to right): Mark Fish, Brooklin Bailey, Gary Player, Anthony Phillips and Ashok Pundit celebrate their victory in the Gary and Vivienne Player Invitational.

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19th November 2022

Team Harvey and former Bok Lambie lead Players’ golf and giving drive

SUN CITY, North West – Sunshine Tour professional Jared Harvey said that when he saw the signage for the Gary and Vivienne Player Invitational on the first tee box of the Lost City Golf Course on Saturday, it really hit home that he was playing for something bigger this weekend.

Harvey is one of a number of Sunshine Tour professionals who are competing alongside sports stars and business leaders in this weekend’s tournament in aid of raising funds for the Blair Atholl Pre-Primary School that the Players started on their farm over three decades ago, and which forms a key part of the legacy of the Gary and Vivienne Player Foundation.

And the privilege Harvey says he felt in being a part of this charity drive was enhanced by his fourball team leading the first round of this 36-hole tournament.

Harvey and his team of former Springbok rugby star Patrick Lambie and business leaders Stuart Morris and Elizabeth Horn topped the leaderboard on a total of 25 under par.

“It’s an absolute privilege to be here. I stepped onto the first tee and saw the signage and it sunk in that I’m definitely part of something special. It’s great to be here. Gary Player is a very special man,” said Harvey.

Harvey was also highly impressed with Lambie’s performance.

“Pat is off an 11 handicap and I saw a couple of swings out there today that I would’ve been proud of. I think we had a good blend of handicaps in our team and we dovetailed really well.”

Second place is currently shared by the teams of Sunshine Tour professional Neil Schietekat, former Proteas cricketer Vernon Philander, and business leaders Pamela and Neil Senior; and Sunshine Tour professional Louis Albertse, former Bafana Bafana star Mark Williams, and business leaders Iwan Swiegers and Marius Reitz on 22 under par.

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18th November 2022

CIB joins Sunshine Tour as official insurance partner

The Sunshine Tour has announced that CIB (Pty) Ltd (“CIB”), a leader in the provision of specialised insurance solutions in the South African market, is the new official insurance partner for the Tour.

The partnership will see CIB provide specialist commercial insurance for all Sunshine Tour business assets, as well as the TaylorMade golf clubs of the historically disadvantaged professionals who are part of the Papwa Sewgolum Class.

CIB will also cover the hole-in-one insurance on the Sunshine Tour at all DP World Tour co-sanctioned tournaments this season and has further extended its commitment to professional golf as an event sponsor of the Investec South African Open Championship.

“We are delighted to partner with the Sunshine Tour in providing high quality insurance cover for the organisation and giving them the peace of mind that our products offer,” said Jon-Jon Smit, Executive Head of Sales and Marketing.

“Professional sport is an environment reliant upon its competitors being able to perform freely at the highest level and to their fullest potential. As a business we are passionate about creating personalised, bespoke solutions that allow our clients to pursue their passion and realise their goals. We specialise in the commercial/business insurance market and have a wide network of trusted brokers that we know have our clients’ best interests at heart.”

Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour, said, “It is a great pleasure to welcome CIB into the Sunshine Tour family. A high-quality insurance partner who understands our business and is well-placed to manage this is vital in terms of allowing us to focus on our golfers and their journey to greatness. I also want to thank CIB for extending their cover to the historically disadvantaged professionals in our Papwa Sewgolum Class, who are often the most vulnerable and at-risk individuals. We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with CIB.”

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17th November 2022

Papwa Sewgolum Class pro Bruiners awarded sponsor’s invite to Investec South African Open

In recognition of an “Out of the Ordinary” season so far, Investec awarded Heinrich Bruiners the sponsor’s invitation to compete in this year’s 112th Investec SA Open Championship.

As the highest-placed professional (not otherwise exempt) on the Papwa Sewgolum Class Order of Merit, Bruiners will, courtesy of Investec, join the 156-strong field at the Investec SA Open Championship and compete for an impressive prize fund of $1.5 million. The globally televised championship will take place from Thursday 1 to Sunday 4 December 2022 at the Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate.

Bruiners has been one of the leading performers in the Papwa Sewgolum Class in a season where he’s worked hard to reclaim the form that saw him win the 2013 Vodacom Origins of Golf at Euphoria Golf Estate. Bruiners has missed only three cuts on the Sunshine Tour this entire season and has had nine top-20 finishes, including a share of 12th place in the prestigious South African PGA Championship.

“Adding to the title sponsorship of the South African Open Championship, Investec is a proud patron of the Papwa Sewgolum Class for the next three years. Awarding the sponsor’s invitation is another way the brand is growing transformation in South African golf and enabling tomorrow’s stars to make the leap onto the professional circuit,” says Peta Dixon, Investec’s head of sponsorships.

“In light of our values of equality, belonging, inclusion and diversity, Investec takes tremendous pride in awarding a well-deserved player this Out of the Ordinary opportunity. We congratulate Heinrich Bruiners – it is an honour to afford him the opportunity to showcase his talent on the world stage come 1 December. May he enjoy his experience and know that the possibilities are endless,” added Dixon.

The 34-year-old Bruiners said: “I’ve reached the age now where I want to perform more than ever. I’m more motivated now than ever in my golf career”.

Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour, said: “This is a tremendous opportunity for Heinrich and we’re extremely grateful to Investec for awarding him a place in the Investec South African Open Championship. Investec shares the Sunshine Tour’s vision to transform South African professional golf and is a proud supporter of our Papwa Sewgolum Class. Heinrich’s place in our national Open will no doubt inspire our other Papwa Sewgolum Class professionals to keep working even harder to make their own dreams a reality.”

Caption (from left right): Sunshine Tour professional Heinrich Bruiners; Peta Dixon, Investec head of sponsorships; and Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour.

About the Papwa Sewgolum Class:

This initiative provides financial and other support to players who turn professional after graduating from the GolfRSA squad and similar programmes. This ‘bridging support’ plugs a gap that exists when the new professionals are no longer eligible for the assistance they enjoyed as amateurs. The Class is made up of Sunshine Tour professionals who are players of colour (male) who earn their cards on the Sunshine Tour. Approximately 61 professional male golfers of colour participate in the SAT transformation initiatives each year.

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15th November 2022

Gary Player wants to leave a legacy of hope

Gary Player, who turned 87 this month, says he hopes his efforts to improve the lives of the underprivileged through his foundation will far outlive any success he achieved as one of golf’s greatest competitors.

The winner of nine Majors on the regular tour, nine Majors on the senior tour and 165 tournaments worldwide will continue his work raising funds for the underprivileged when he hosts The Gary and Vivienne Player Invitational at Sun City this weekend.

“Legacy is an interesting concept for me. I’m often asked about legacy, and it’s always written that I’ve won 18 Majors, 165 tournaments, am the only player to win the Grand Slam on both tours. But that’s not my legacy,” says Player.

“My legacy is that I struggled. I started life with an empty stomach and a pocket full of dreams. The only person behind me was my shadow on the ground. But that means I know what it’s like to struggle. It has given me empathy for people who struggle in life. I’d like to go to my grave knowing that our Gary and Vivienne Player Foundation has raised over $100 million to change the lives of people around the world. That’s my legacy.”

This weekend’s Gary and Vivienne Player Invitational will continue the work Player and his late wife started when they first opened the Blair Atholl Pre-Primary School on their farm over three decades ago. What started as a school for just a handful of the local farmworkers’ children has now grown to educating 125 children between the ages of three and six.

The 36-hole tournament at the Lost City Golf Course from 19-20 November will bring together a selection of sporting greats and business leaders to help raise funds for the foundation and specifically to secure a sustainable future for the school.

Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish, boxing great Brian Mitchell, South African rugby stars Victor Matfield, Butch James, Akona and Odwa Ndungane, Patrick Lambie, Stefan Terblanche, Owen Nkumane and Jaco van der Westhuyzen, Proteas cricketers Herschelle Gibbs and Vernon Philander, former Bafana Bafana footballers Mark Fish, Shaun Bartlett, Jimmy Tau, Aaron Mokoena and Mark Williams, and renowned South African women’s golfer Sally Little will join a collection of Sunshine Tour stars in the field, including five professionals from the Tour’s Papwa Sewgolum Class for historically disadvantaged golfers.

“People talk about a legacy to the game of golf. Forget about being a great golfer, I’d like to be remembered as a man who loved people, who loved life and who tried to contribute to society,” says Player.

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13th November 2022

Emotional Fleetwood makes it a double at Nedbank Golf Challenge

SUN CITY, North West – In the 40 editions of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, there are a select few golfers who have crept into the hearts of Sun City golf fans. Similarly, this tournament has found a special place in their hearts as well. Tommy Fleetwood is one of those.

The Englishman grew up watching “Africa’s Major” on TV with his dad. In 2019 he realised a dream when he won it. On Sunday, he joined a rare club of the world’s greatest golfers to have successfully defended his title.

In a tense final round played against the backdrop of a gathering storm and a weather-delay, and with the leaderboard packed tighter than a waterhole at dusk in the neighbouring Pilanesberg National Park, Fleetwood’s chip-in for eagle on the par-five 14th proved decisive as he went on to win by a single shot on 11 under par with a final round of 67.

What it meant was written all over Fleetwood’s face as he burst into tears on the 18th. What it means in the history of this tournament is a place alongside Seve Ballesteros, Ernie Els, Nick Price, David Frost, Jim Furyk and Lee Westwood as the players to have defended their title at the Gary Player Country Club.

“I already have so many amazing memories from this place and feel like I have a great connection so this has just added to that,” said Fleetwood, who on Wednesday battled through the pro-am because he was so ill and almost didn’t tee it up on Thursday.

“It was touch-and-go Thursday morning, and then again on Saturday where we woke up early to finish the second round. I didn’t sleep well and felt like I had nothing in me at all. The doctor at Sun City was amazing. I gave his son my winning golf ball because without him there was not a chance for me. I was just thinking if I can keep going one hole at a time, you never know what the weather is going to do and if we’ll get four rounds in. And I’m glad I made that decision.”

New Zealander Ryan Fox was tied for the lead with Fleetwood playing the 18th but bogeyed the last to finish second on 10 under with a closing 68. Christiaan Bezuidenhout finished as the leading South African on seven under par with a final round of 72.

But this week was all about the 40th celebration of a very special golf tournament, and it delivered a winner with a very special connection to it.

“You know, it meant so much to have my name on the ninth walkway where they put down the bronze plaques with all the previous winners and some of the greatest players of all time. This week I sent a video of that walkway to my dad who is back home because we had always said how great would it be to put my name down there. I showed him it, and he immediately texted back saying, ‘Let’s put down a second one’,” said Fleetwood.

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12th November 2022

Grace and Lawrence lead SA charge in “Africa’s Major”

SUN CITY, North West – Branden Grace and Thriston Lawrence are at the forefront of the South African charge in the Nedbank Golf Challenge as they both head into Sunday’s final round only one stroke off the lead and looking to ensure a local champion in this milestone 40th edition of “Africa’s Major”.

A long day of golf at the Gary Player Country Club where the players had to complete the weather-interrupted second round and then head straight into the third round finished with Grace and Lawrence on eight under par, just one shot off the joint lead held by Belgium’s Thomas Detry and Denmark’s Rasmus Højgaard.

By the time the second round was completed on Saturday morning, Luke Donald and Richard Bland shared the lead on eight under par, with Grace one shot back, Højgaard two off the lead, Detry four shots back and Lawrence seven behind.

But the afternoon’s third round proved a different story.

Detry was first into the clubhouse with a 67 to set the target at nine under par. “I managed to find some confidence on the greens. My game has been in great form and I feel like everything is clicking again,” he said.

Højgaard joined him in the lead with a third round of 69. “I’ve been driving the ball pretty well. You need to drive it well on this course. In the final round I’ll try and stay as calm as possible and not try and force anything. I’ve got a good feeling about it,” he said.

And the South Africans as a group made a strong push up the leaderboard.

Lawrence teed off the 10th, birdied four of his six holes to the turn and added a further three birdies on his second nine for a 65 and a tournament total of eight under par. “I’ve been hitting it unbelievably well from tee to green. This is probably my best round ever on this golf course, and it was a good day to do it,” said Lawrence, who is having a dream debut in the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

Grace had a more patient 71 to join him on eight under par.

“It’s put me back where I needed to be. From tee to green I hit it as well as I’ve ever done on this golf course. I struggled to find the speed of the greens, though. But I’m one behind going into the final round. I’m enjoying my golf and if I can shoot five or six under in the final round, I’ll be in with a shout,” said Grace, who is the last South African winner of this tournament in 2017.

Behind them, Christiaan Bezuidenhout will start the final round just two shots off the lead, and Richard Sterne is four shots back.

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11th November 2022

Rain tops the leaderboard on day two of Nedbank Golf Challenge

SUN CITY, North West – Rain is a blessing in Africa, and “Africa’s Major” was certainly looking for a blessed celebration of its 40th anniversary. But the second round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge had to be suspended on Friday because of lightning and a waterlogged golf course.

Play was first suspended at 11:49 because of a thunderstorm, and it wasn’t able to resume as the Gary Player Country Club was soaked by consistent rain throughout the afternoon.

The second round will resume at 7:45am on Saturday, with the third round to follow after its completion.

New Zealander Ryan Fox and England’s Luke Donald are currently tied for the lead on eight under par through three holes of their second rounds. They are two strokes clear Ross Fisher, Rasmus Højgaard and Guido Migliozzi who also have yet to complete their second rounds. Richard Sterne is currently the leading South African on three under par through 11 holes.

David Williams, the Tournament Director for the DP World Tour, said they have every intention of completing four rounds but are clearly under pressure from the weather.

“We’ll restart at 7:45am everywhere on the golf course and they’ll finish their rounds and then go straight into the third round. In that way we’re probably going to save at least two hours, and with the forecast on Saturday not looking good we need to grab every means to get as much play complete.

“Hopefully if everything goes right we might get the third round done on Saturday. A lot of it is up in the air and we’ll have to see what the weather throws at us. If we get through the third round we’d certainly want to complete four rounds. The forecast is not good for the weekend so we’ll be watching it all closely and trying to make any plans we can to keep this tournament the great success that it always is.”

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10th November 2022

SA duo chasing the Fox at Sun City

SUN CITY, North West – It’s two Springboks chasing an All Black as Branden Grace and Justin Walters led the South African challenge after the first round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge at the Gary Player Country Club on Thursday, and with New Zealand’s Ryan Fox top of the leaderboard.

Grace, the last South African winner of this tournament in 2017, and Walters opened with rounds of two-under-par 70. At the top of the leaderboard, Fox signed for a sublime eight-under-par 64 to lead the field by one stroke. His nearest challenger is European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald, who last played here in 2014 and rediscovered his form with a 65.

Grace was delighted to be contending after a difficult start on the front nine where he was two over through the first three holes.

“I don’t know what it is with that front nine. I’m always a little on the back foot and then I get things together. But it’s nice to be here and I’m honoured to be back,” said Grace.

But it was Fox who set the target on day one with his 64 that saw him drop only one shot on a golf course which he said has never treated him well before this.

“It feels a bit weird to have done that today. I had a lot of good numbers, managed to get the yardages right and I putted really nicely. It still feels a bit strange to be honest. This golf course has kicked me in the butt several times, so maybe it was nice today and will bite me tomorrow.

“I couldn’t have wished for a better start. I figure if you can get to double digits under par around here for the most part you’re going to be pretty close come Sunday. To be most of the way there after the first round is pretty nice.”

Donald was just as surprised by his performance.

“A little bit unexpected to be honest. I wasn’t showing much form coming into this week. I kept it in play well off the tee and my iron play was really good. I think I hit 15 greens today and around this course, that is very pleasing. It’s tricky with the altitude and the wind swirls a bit here, I got the distances right all day, gave myself a lot of good looks and made a couple pf putts, especially on the back nine.”

Italy’s Guido Migliozzi is well placed on five under par.