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8th December 2022

Inspired Burmester leads at Leopard Creek

MALALANE, Mpumalanga – Dean Burmester was so inspired by witnessing his first rhino dehorning project that he produced a round of seven-under-par 65 with as many birdies as he could muster to contribute to anti-poaching efforts and lead the first day of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek on Thursday.

Burmester and a number of other professionals support a campaign called Birdies4Rhinos whereby they donate money for every birdie they make in the season to rhino conversation. And it was his experience of the dehorning earlier this week that inspired him to produce one of his best back nines ever at Leopard Creek on Thursday.

“What a back nine. Some of the best golf I’ve played in a while. A back nine to remember that’s for sure,” he said as he came home with six birdies to take the lead.

“Earlier this week we went on a rhino dehorning project in the neighbouring Kruger National Park and it was quite an emotional experience. The thought of that came to me after the turn and I just wanted to make as many birdies as I could do keep supporting that cause,” he said.

Burmester leads by one over Lukas Nemecz who did his scoring in the calmer morning conditions, and started his round with three straight birdies. “That makes life a lot easier,” he said.

Former champion Branden Grace is one of five golfers just two shots off the lead.

Burmester is certainly relishing being back in South Africa after a year of travel on both the DP World Tour and PGA Tour. And he’s particular enjoying being back in the bush this week.

“We had a lovely game drive with the family this morning and saw lion and leopard on the way out. That put me in a great mood. We rushed back, I had a quick change and was delighted to hear that we could play in shorts because of the heat, had a bite to eat and then got myself ready and that mood carried into the day. It was probably one of the most fun rounds of golf I’ve had in a while. I hope I can keep enjoying myself. We know this golf course can bite you but America has paid dividends. I’ve played a lot on Bermuda grass this year and that has helped me a lot this week.”

Grace was very happy with his start to a tournament he won in 2014 by a commanding seven shots.

“It’s always nice to come back to South Africa and play golf courses like this, which is one of the best. It’s nice to see how the changes have now settled in here. There is no rough this week so that’s different but the greens will firm up as the week goes on, that’s for sure. This course will show its teeth over the next few days so let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”
– Michael Vlismas

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7th December 2022

Lawrence chasing more glory at Leopard Creek

MALALANE, Mpumalanga  There is a definite sense of coming full circle for Thriston Lawrence as he arrived at Leopard Creek for this week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship looking to continue his form as South Africa’s latest DP World Tour champion.

Lawrence grew up in nearby Mbombela and has a special relationship with Leopard Creek.

“This is a very special place for me. The Alfred Dunhill Championship was the first professional tournament I ever came to support. I remember seeing Ernie Els and all the others win here, and as a young amateur golfer standing next to the green asking for a ball. And to now be here myself is special,” said Lawrence.

The 26-year-old returns this week as one of South African golf’s most exciting talents having won three times on the DP World Tour in the past 13 months and making history as the first South African to win the DP World Tour’s Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award.

Last week he added his name to the list of South African greats when he won the Investec South African Open Championship.

And this week Lawrence finds himself in illustrious company as he tees it up in an Alfred Dunhill Championship field that includes multiple Major winner and former world number one Ernie Els, fellow Major winners Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, and former Alfred Dunhill Championship winners Branden Grace, Brandon Stone, Richard Sterne and Christiaan Bezuidenhout.

“It’s very exciting to be here. Everybody wants to get their hands on that leopard trophy,” said Lawrence.

Els is equally excited to be back at a venue he’s always had a special relationship with as the winner of the 2005 Alfred Dunhill Championship, and with South African golf in such a healthy place.

“Seeing Thriston do as well as he has done is great to see. It reminds us of the past players and what other South Africans have done. We have such a rich history in the game in this country and these young players are continuing that. The roots of the game are in place here with the amazing work done by GolfRSA, the South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB) and other foundations such as mine and those of other golfers. Golf is in a good state in South Africa,” he said.

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A ticket to world-class golf at AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open

A field containing two current European Ryder Cup vice-captains, a former European Ryder Cup captain, multiple Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour winners, and a collection of professional golf’s exciting young stars is what a ticket to this year’s AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open will unlock for golf fans.

Ticket sales are in the final push with just over a week to go until the Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned showpiece tees off at Mont Choisy Le Golf from 15-18 December.

Nicolas Colsaerts and Thomas Bjørn will bring the Ryder Cup flavour to this year’s tournament as two of the vice-captains for the European team ahead of the 2023 Ryder Cup in Italy. Bjørn adds to the Ryder Cup influence in the field as the victorious European captain at the 2018 Ryder Cup and a three-time Ryder Cup competitor before this.

The field also contains rookie PGA Tour campaigners Thomas Detry and Dean Burmester, DP World Tour champions Brandon Stone and Antoine Rozner, Challenge Tour champions JC Ritchie and Nathan Kimsey, and a number of professionals such as Deon Gemishuys and Bryce Easton who have recently secured their DP World Tour cards and will be using this event to make a fast start to the new season.

The next generation of talent will also be on display in Casey Jarvis, Filippo Celli, Jayden Schaper, Tom McKibbin, Wilco Nienaber, and 2022 Amateur champion Aldrich Potgieter.

Further ticket details can be found here https://afrasiabankmauritiusopen.com/tournament/ and tickets to this DP World Tour and Sunshine Tour co-sanctioned tournament can be purchased at https://www.marideal.mu/afrasia-bank-mauritius-open-tournament.html.

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, PRO CARTS, IT Solvz, Häagen-Dazs and Dragon Electronics.

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4th December 2022

Lawrence joins the greats as Investec SA Open champion

LANSERIA, Johannesburg (Gauteng) – It had everything the final round of the 112th Investec South African Open deserved. And it took everything from Thriston Lawrence to do what the greats of South African golf have done before him and add his name to one of the most sought after trophies in the game.

With a drama-filled one-stroke victory on 16 under par at Blair Atholl Golf and Country Estate on Sunday, Lawrence turned his boyhood dreams into reality and claimed his third DP World Tour victory in what has been an incredible past 13 months for him.

“Unbelievable. It’s a dream come true for me. This is the one you want to win – your national Open. It was so special to have Gary Player watching as well. He’s won 13 of these, and now I’ve got one as well. It’s what you dream of. This means everything to me. This is by far my best victory ever,” said a relieved Lawrence.

He started the final round with a two-stroke lead and at one point was as much as five shots ahead. But then came a stretch of five dropped shots in five holes on a back nine of 41 for a closing 74 where he was pulled into an almost match play battle with Clément Sordet who tied him for the lead before his bogey on 17.

“During the middle of the round it felt like it was going to be an easy victory for me and then golf happens. You get ups and downs during your round. You get ups and downs during life. And it happened to me today. It felt like everything was falling apart, but I just hung in there. It felt like match play for me. Even with those stumbles I was still ahead and then after 16 I told myself I was all square. I just tried to stick to my own game and stay calm,” said Lawrence.

“To be standing here with the trophy is an unbelievable accomplishment for me. I’m just so grateful. It wasn’t the prettiest finish but a win is a win. I’ll probably wake up tomorrow and still not believe it. This is what you work for. It’s the toughest thing in the world to win, and it’s been an unbelievable start to the new season for me.”

Sordet took second place on 15 under par with a closing 73.

Christiaan Maas won the Freddie Tait Cup for the leading amateur as he ended the week on five under par with a final round of 77. Michael Vlismas

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3rd December 2022

Lawrence on the brink of Investec SA Open glory

LANSERIA, Johannesburg (Gauteng) – On a day when Gary Player arrived at the Investec South African Open, young South African Thriston Lawrence moved a step closer to joining the legend and other greats of the game as a winner of this historic title.

Lawrence heads into Sunday’s final round with a two-shot lead on 18 under par following a 67 on Saturday. His nearest challenger is Frenchman Clément Sordet on 16 under following a third-round 66, with Sweden’s Jens Fahrbring in third place on 12 under after a 69.

Lawrence’s putter was again the key to his success and kept him in a lead he has held since the first round.

“The putting has definitely been key. It was good fun out there. It started off well with a birdie on the first and then I lost a bit of momentum around the turn. But yes, 18 under. I didn’t think the winning score would be 18 under to be honest, and now I’m there after three rounds,” he said.

Lawrence won twice in his rookie season on the DP World Tour last year, becoming the first South African in history to win the Tour’s Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award.

And now he has the chance to add his name to one of the most historic trophies in world golf.

“It’s our country’s Open and I’m playing good golf. I’m enjoying it. We had a good crowd out there and I have most of my family here. It’s been fun.”

Sordet is also looking forward to a final round battle in a country where he won a Challenge Tour event earlier this year and experienced a trophy handover from an elephant.

“It’s been a lot of fun. I know Thriston is a really good player and he is playing well. It will be challenging to catch him but I’ll give it my best,” he said.

The talented amateur Christiaan Maas leads the race for the Freddie Tait Cup awarded to the leading amateur. Maas was right in the hunt for the main professional title at the start of the third round at only three shots off the lead. But a difficult third round of 72 dropped him to nine under par overall but still putting in a strong showing.

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2nd December 2022

Thriston tightens his grip on Investec SA Open

LANSERIA, Johannesburg (Gauteng) – Thriston Lawrence kept his hold on the Investec South African Open Championship as he moved into a two-stroke lead clubhouse lead headed into the weekend at Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate.

The South African signed for a second round of 67 to climb to 13 under par overall. The second round was suspended for just over two hours because of dangerous weather. The second round will resume at 7am on Saturday, with the third round not scheduled to start before 10:15am.

Lawrence’s nearest challenger is fellow South African Ockie Strydom on 11 under. After Lawrence had equalled his own course record of 64 on day one, Strydom joked that if he wasn’t going to break his own record, somebody else might as well do it. Strydom obliged with a course record 63 on Friday.

South African amateur Christiaan Maas is tied third on 10 under following a 65 and is looking to become the first amateur winner of the game’s second oldest national Open since Denis Hutchinson in 1959. Frenchman Clement Sordet also heads into the weekend on 10 under par.

But Lawrence is looking very comfortable at the top of this leaderboard. “I’m having loads of fun, especially when making a few long putts which I haven’t done in the last three weeks. It’s just been copy and paste in terms of what I’ve been doing the last few months – hitting it well from tee to green. The driver has been probably the best club in my bag all year, and this is quite a forgiving golf course off the tee. I’ve been giving myself a lot of chances out there. But I’m definitely pleased with the putting and looking forward to the weekend,” said Lawrence.

Strydom also thoroughly enjoyed his 63. “It was a lot of fun. You don’t often have a round like this on this golf course. To go bogey-free here is very pleasing as well. I’m in a good position for the weekend. This championship means a lot to me. It’s one of those that every South African wants to win.”

As much as the South Africans will be pushing to win their national Open, Sordet is relishing being in contention in a country where he won a Challenge Tour event in March.

“I’m really enjoying my time in South Africa and I’m playing well. This tournament is pretty special. On the 18th you can see the banner with all the past champions on it, and you have some great names. Gary Player won this 13 times. It’s amazing to see those names there.”

And 19-year-old Maas is looking to add to that history himself. Playing in his third Investec South African Open, Maas is looking to become the eighth golfer to win both the Freddie Tait Cup for the leading amateur and the main professional title in the same year. The last to do so was Hutchinson in 1959.

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1st December 2022

Dads putting tip helps Lawrence into Investec SA Open lead

LANSERIA, Johannesburg (Gauteng) – A putting tip from his father helped Thriston Lawrence equal his own course record and lead the first round of the Investec South African Open at Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate on Thursday.

The South African matched the eight-under-par 64 he shot here in a Sunshine Tour event over a year ago for a one-stroke lead over England’s Ross Fisher and Swede Jens Fahrbring.

“I’m quite familiar with this golf course. I played nicely and managed to drop a few putts thanks to a tip from my father,” said Lawrence.

“After last week’s Joburg Open my dad asked me for some time on the putting green and said I wasn’t looking comfortable and should stand a bit further away from the ball. He told me to just trust him, which I did, and it helped.”

It was the perfect start for Lawrence on a golf course that by its sheer length challenged the field on a warm day in Africa.

“It’s a very long golf course, but I like to play full shots into the greens. I think my mid to high irons are the key to my game. It is a long golf course but it suits me. I’m sticking to my gameplan and being aggressive off the tee. I love playing aggressively and this golf course gives you that opportunity. And to start like this in my national Open means everything. Everybody wants to get their hands on that trophy and it’s a good start.”

Lawrence has just come off a rookie DP World Tour season in which he won twice and became the first South African to be named the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year. And he’s clearly picked up from where he left off in this new season.

“I just kept doing what I’m doing. I’m a big believer in not changing what works. I’ve been doing the same things for the last few years and am a big believer in not changing what’s already working.”

Fahrbring, who admits he’s not a long hitter, put everything into his opening 65 to be one off the lead alongside Fisher. “I tried to hit my driver as hard as I could and today it went straight and fairly long for me. I hit some quality iron shots and made some putts, which was good. I’m quite tired, so home, rest, get some food and drink a lot of water,” he said.

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30th November 2022

Blair Atholl will be “a beast” for Investec SA Open field

LANSERIA, Johannesburg (Gauteng) – It’s been described as “strong”, “a beast”, and “massive”. At 7 462 metres, the Blair Atholl Golf & Country Estate course that will host this week’s Investec South African Open is the longest in DP World Tour history. And it is certainly going to be a worthy adversary for this star-studded field.

Considering it was designed by Gary Player, the winner of a record 13 of his national Opens, it is perhaps only right that this Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour field here this week should expect a test worthy of the 112thInvestec South African Open.

When PGA Tour campaigner Dean Burmester, one of the longest hitters in the game, says it’s a long course, that is also enough of a warning to the rest of the field.

“It’s long. You’ll see quite a few long hitters in contention this week for sure. Whoever is coming to watch, wear a good pair of trainers. But it’s in great condition. The golf course lends itself to some good mid-iron play, and the greens are great,” Burmester said.

“Oh it’s massive,” said last week’s Joburg Open champion Dan Bradbury. “We’re going to be putting the mid- to long-irons to work this week. Sometimes we tend to just use the top end and bottom end of the clubs in the golf bag, and the middle kind of gets forgotten about. I like a mix. This week it’s nice to be hitting a lot of seven and six irons into greens. As much as it’s harder it’s nice to mix it up.”

Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel believes a solid iron game will be key to success this week as he hunts a maiden win in his national Open following several near misses, and on a golf course where he used to have a home.

“It’s one of the longest golf courses in South Africa. I’ve always thought that it’s a second shot golf course. The greens are the defence. They’re big but they’ve got angles to them which means you need to be pretty precise with your distance control. Good iron play will serve you well,” he said.

Brandon Stone, looking for a second victory in his national Open, said, “I think Blair Atholl will be an absolute test of the game. It’s a beast. The Blair Mile on the back nine is a true test of ball striking. You cannot miss a shot there. A par on those few holes is great. If the wind gets up the course will be even tougher.”

But as far as Dylan Frittelli is concerned, that’s exactly the way it should be for the second oldest national Open in golf.

“This is the Investec South African Open – we don’t want 23 under par winning, so make it as tough as it can be,” he said.

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Els headlines Major field for Alfred Dunhill Championship

Ernie Els will lead an incredible field of Major winners and former champions of the Alfred Dunhill Championship when this prestigious €1.5 million tournament is played at Leopard Creek Country Club from December 8-11.

Els, a four-time Major champion and former world number one, returns to Leopard Creek as the winner of the 2005 Alfred Dunhill Championship and runner-up in 2007.

The South African will be joined in this Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned tournament by former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, who is a record four-time winner of the Alfred Dunhill Championship and also has four runner-up finishes in the tournament.

Schwartzel also holds the record for the biggest margin of victory in the tournament with his 12-stroke triumph in 2012 as well as the lowest tournament total of 24 under par that same year.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, adds to the Major winners in the field and is seeking his first Alfred Dunhill Championship title after coming close with a second place in 2005.

The list of former Alfred Dunhill Championship winners in the field is also impressive, including Branden Grace, the only player to have won both the Alfred Dunhill Championship and its sister tournament the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland, and Brandon Stone, Pablo Larrazabal, Richard Sterne and defending champion Christiaan Bezuidenhout.

The tournament will also feature Shaun Norris, the winner of the Sunshine Tour’s Luno Order of Merit last season, Thriston Lawrence, the first South African to ever win the DP World Tour’s Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award, DP World Tour winners George Coetzee and Joachim B Hansen, PGA Tour campaigners Erik van Rooyen and MJ Daffue, and rising South African star Casey Jarvis.

The local South African challenge for one of the flagship tournaments on the Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour includes every single winner on the Sunshine Tour this season, with Coetzee and Albert Venter both having won twice on the Tour this season already.

South Africa’s top amateurs will also compete led by current number one Yurav Premlall, who together with Aldrich Potgieter, winner of The Amateur this year, Kyle de Beer and Christiaan Maas make up four of the top five players on the current GolfRSA rankings.

The Alfred Dunhill Championship continues to have an equally significant impact outside of the ropes. One of the primary beneficiaries of Alfred Dunhill’s proud history in golf is the South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB). Both the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and the Alfred Dunhill Championship donate tournament proceeds to the SAGDB.

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29th November 2022

Stone predicts strong SA challenge in Investec SA Open

LANSERIA, Johannesburg (Gauteng) – Brandon Stone predicts that this week’s Investec South African Open at Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate will be a true showcase of the growing strength of South African golf.

Stone returns as the 2016 winner of the second oldest national Open in golf and forms part of what he says is a field and a week that is going to display everything of the strength and future potential of South African golf.

“I have no doubt there will be a strong South African showing this year. You look at the field and the South Africans in there, and then a championship golf course designed by Gary Player, and I think this is one week where the fans can come and see first-hand how South African golf has moved to another level over the past few years. With the amount of golfers we have shining on the global stage, this is only a taste of what this country’s golfers have to offer for the years to come. I’ve just got a real feeling that this year’s Investec SA Open will be a true showcase of this,” said Stone.

The South African challenge this week is indeed a tantalising one and includes Charl Schwartzel, Dylan Frittelli, MJ Daffue, Branden Grace, Thriston Lawrence, Erik van Rooyen and Dean Burmester.

A second title this week would see Stone join a select group including Retief Goosen, Trevor Immelman, Mark McNulty, Tony Johnstone and David Frost as having won their national Open twice.

“Being privileged enough to have my name alongside the likes of Ernie Els, Gary Player, Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace and so many others is something I hold very close to my heart. Any time you get to win your national Open it’s something special in your golf career. I know this year there will be a lot of top South African golfers looking to add their names to the trophy. I’m looking to get my name on there again,” he said.

And Stone said he is looking forward to the challenge that the Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate course will pose.

“I think Blair Atholl will be an absolute test of the game. It’s a beast. The Blair Mile on the back nine is a true test of ball striking. You cannot miss a shot there. A par on those few holes is great. If the wind gets up the course will be even tougher.”