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15th July 2024

Els is a Major winner again!

Ernie Els is already a winner of 19 PGA Tour titles, including two US Opens and two Open Championships, is enshrined in the World Golf Hall of Fame, and has inspired countless young golfers from his homeland of South Africa through the years.

There was something missing among his many achievements, though, and he readily recognized it. Els, who turns 55 in October, had never won a Major championship among the over-50 set.

“I’m trying to put all the pieces together.”

That day arrived on Sunday at the Kaulig Companies Championship at Firestone Country Club’s South Course in Akron, Ohio. Els countered a regrettable bogey at the par-five 16th hole with two strong closing pars, and his reward was his first Major championship as a senior. Els shot a two-under 68 on Sunday to finish at 10-under 270, edging YE Yang by a shot.

The victory was Els’ sixth on PGA Tour Champions, made Els the first player to get to three victories this season, and catapulted him to No. 1 in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup standings. Winning the Kaulig Companies title, formerly the Senior Players, also puts Els in the field next March for his 25th career appearance in The Players at TPC Sawgrass.

“This has been a long time coming on this golf course,” Els said at Firestone. “Thirty-two years ago I started playing here … but I never got to win here. So this was really great.”

Els was testing shafts earlier in the week in preparation for next week’s 152nd Open Championship at Royal Troon in Scotland, and he came upon a nice discovery. He shifted the ball a little further back in his stance, and as a result his contact was good throughout the bag all week. Sunday, it was the putter that came through big at pivotal moments. There was a 10-foot save for par at 12, just after a bogey at 10; then, at the par-four 14th, where 54-hole leader Steve Stricker stumbled to a triple bogey, Els poured in a 30-foot curler for birdie to regain his lead.

At the par-four 17th, where Els’ tee shot found a left-side fairway bunker, Els made a brilliant lag putt from the very back of the green to within inches of the cup for an easy par.

Yang, meanwhile, kept on charging with the best round of the day. The winner of the 2009 PGA Championship, where he took down Tiger Woods at Hazeltine, shot four-under 66 despite missing two short putts in his final seven holes. He missed from inside three feet for par at the par-three 12th and from two feet after a great approach at 17 seemed to have set up a tournament-tying birdie.

Yang finished alone in second. Jerry Kelly, a two-time champion at Firestone, overcame a sluggish Sunday start to shoot 69 and finish alone in third at 273, one shot better than KJ Choi (70) and Stricker (73). Stricker, 57, a six-time winner in 2023, started the day leading by one and stretched the lead to two, but he fell out of the tournament with his bogey at 13 and triple bogey at 14. He continues to seek his first victory of 2024, though here’s something for perspective: In 10 starts this season, only once has Stricker finished worse than eighth.

For Els, he now can enjoy the relief that accompanies landing his first senior Major. It mostly was made possible by his 64 at Firestone on Saturday, a round that matched his best effort of the season and was fueled by an eagle two at No. 17, where he dunked an approach from back in the fairway. He started Sunday a shot behind Stricker. It wasn’t as if Els was not giving himself chances in the bigger events; Sunday’s victory was his fourth finish of T8 or better at PGA Tour Champions Majors this season.

In fact, in 18 previous starts in senior Majors heading into the Kaulig Companies, Els had been T5 or better in half of them. At the 16th hole on Sunday, however, he appeared to make a major gaffe. Els had 222 yards to the hole at the water-guarded par five and, with a one-shot lead and pressing to make more birdies, he went for it. But his approach faded weakly right and short, splashing down in the penalty area. He dropped from 87 yards out, hit a poor wedge, and failed to convert the putt for par.

“It was my mistake – I made a bad swing,” Els said of his errant approach. “But as I look it now, I was trying to make birdie, because I saw that YE was at 10 (under). I was trying to really get ahead of him … but then it was kind of a nervy finish at the end.

“We got it done.”

With a little assistance, he did. Els finished the task with his quality two-putt par at 17, and then really stepped up at the finish. The 18th at Firestone’s South Course is a long, tree-lined par four of 464 yards that moves right-to-left. A true, old-school four. Els stood up and smashed a driver on a line that climbed over trees down the left side and faded back into the fairway. One more solid iron from 155 yards left him hole-high to a back hole location, and he made easy work of two putts for par from there, coaxing his first putt just inches short.

Now he is a senior major champion. Having proudly carried so many titles throughout his career, Els had waited a long time to carry that one, and it really might unlock something inside for a guy who, in his words, had yet to hit on all cylinders as a post-50 player.

“Well, I’ve just been watching Steve (Stricker) do it out here the last couple of years, he’s been the man,” Els said. “Him and Bernhard (Langer) and some of the other guys. I like to work at my game still. I’m trying to keep myself healthy where I can swing hard at the ball; it’s kind of fun still.

“It’s just trying to improve. As I say, I came here this week tinkering and then going through the basics of the golf swing and the fundamentals, and I found something. So, really fortunate.”

The difference? The truly good ones never stop searching. Els’ wife, Liezl, and their son, Ben, were there to celebrate the victory off the 18th green. That pretty much sums up Sunday in Akron, Ohio, for big Ernie Els – 19-time Tour winner, four-time Major champion, Presidents Cup player and captain, World Golf Hall of Fame member … and now, at long last, senior major winner. The new title was enough to put a smile on his face he will carry all the way to Royal Troon. – PGA Tour.

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12th June 2024

Sunshine Tour and Gauteng Provincial Government take golf to the people

The Sunshine Tour’s long-held ambition of making the game of golf accessible to all South Africans gained momentum this past week as the Tour, alongside the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) -Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation , held golf clinics in Ekurhuleni and  Tshwane this past weekend.

Different to other initiatives, this Sunshine Tour and GPG programme is aimed at retaining identified talents with the view of reintegrating them into the South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB) which was formed to ensure that the game of golf reached as many young South Africans as possible.

The first of these clinics, facilitated by the Balderstone Sports Institute (BSI), was held at Norkem Park High School in Kempton Park on Saturday while the second was held at Rosina Sedibane Modiba Sports Complex in Laudium, Tshwane on Sunday. Over 80 children – boys and girls – from neighboring areas attended the clinics and they were introduced to the basics of golf under the watchful eyes of teachers from BSI.

“It’s the Tour’s ambition to get as many people involved in the game of golf as possible,” said Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour. “And our partnership with the Gauteng Provincial Government provides us with the perfect platform to achieve this objective. As we all know that Gauteng is the home of champions and a perfect place to unearth more talent.

“We have partnered with BSI on this initiative because of their well-established knowledge base and experience in sports development. The aim is to find kids with real potential, put them through a 10-week programme and those who perform well will then be integrated into the SAGDB structure where their development will be facilitated and accelerated.”

Director of Competitive Sport within the Gauteng Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation department, Philasande Muvevi, echoed Abt’s comments, detailing her department’s vision in this regard.

“As a province, we want to produce more champions and this initiative gives us that opportunity. As you may know, many in our communities still view golf as an elitist sports only accessible to those who are wealthy. We are in the process of changing this perception and proving that golf is accessible to everyone.

“The kids we will select from these groups will continue their development in the 10-week programme we have designed and after that, we will see how far they go. The main thing here is to introduce these kids to the game of golf and see who among them has the potential and the love for the game.

“We are fortunate to have partners like the Sunshine Tour because through their connections with BSI, initiatives like these can have proper impact in the lives of these youngsters. The SAGDB is renowned for its track record in producing quality golfers and administrators and having a structure like that as part of this programme is an advantage because we know these kids will be part of a successful story of development in this country.”

The Balderstone Sports Institute, led by Michael Balderstone, has a rich history of producing fine athletes. Toto Thimba Jnr, a winner on the Sunshine Tour and member of the Papwa Sewgolum Class, is one of the great talents the institution has produced over the years.

Balderstone expressed confidence in the initiative, saying his institution is excited to partner with the Sunshine Tour and the Gauteng Provincial Government in this programme.

“We are delighted to partner with the Sunshine Tour and the department of sports and recreation to bring golf to the people,” Balderstone said. “We have kids who have never played golf before and the excitement in the faces is beautiful to see. We will identify 10 kids here and take them through a programme and see what happens.

“Golf is meant to be enjoyed by everyone and we must applaud the Sunshine Tour and the department for doing the best to make sure golf is accessible. It’s a great sport to play and we are just glad to be part of this programme.”

The kids were taken through their paces; shown how to hold golf clubs properly, taught how to hit balls and given activities to help them with balance and basic ball skills. These, coupled with discipline and patience, are fundamental aspects of playing golf. The programme will be reviewed at the end of the 10-week programme to establish areas which must be improved to make the initiative even more impactful. The Sunshine Tour is Southern Africa’s leading golf Tour which has produced 27 major winners including Ernie Els and Louis Oosthuizen among others.

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8th March 2024

‘Iron and Grit’ earns Davidse share of Jonsson Workwear Open lead

The tagline for the 2024 Jonsson Workwear Open is “Iron and Grit”. South Africa’s Keenan Davidse has had to show exactly this as he’s worked through an extremely difficult time in his personal life, but ended Thursday’s first round of this tournament a content man both inside and outside the ropes.

Davidse signed for an eight-under-par 64 at Glendower Golf Club to share the lead with Spain’s Ivan Cantero. They are one stroke clear of a strong South African challenge including Thriston Lawrence, Oliver Bekker and Louis de Jager, with the in-form Robin Williams just two shots back.

Davidse was delighted with his start in this Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned tournament, and spoke with a sense of relief at feeling a balance in his life and game again.

“I’m on a good foot again. We’ve had some personal challenges as a family and it’s been tough, but we’ve overcome it. That’s my motivation at the moment – my wife and my kids. We all know it’s a tough life out on tour. Golf can bring you down. But with my family and my golf I’m in a good space, and I think that’s what’s motivating me,” said Davidse.

The South African is no stranger to leading a DP World Tour co-sanctioned event, having also done so in the 2017 Joburg Open. But it’s a lesson he learnt last week, where he finished tied 16th in the SDC Championship, that he’s tried to bring into his game here.

“I made 27 birdies last week to finish 16th. I made nine birdies today and one bogey, so I told myself if you limit the bogeys you can score because I make enough birdies,” he said.

Behind him lies the experience of multiple DP World Tour winner Lawrence, who was equally pleased with one of his best opening rounds of late.

“I just had a great day. I had fun and stayed patient and it worked out pretty nicely. I don’t think I’ve shot seven under in a first round in a while. To be up there on day one really helps me. I know I’m good over a weekend, but it’s important if you want to win to go low on day one.”

And on six under par, Williams finds himself in contention for a maiden DP World Tour title for the second week in succession after losing a playoff for last week’s SDC Championship.

“I had time to reflect on last week. This week is a new week on a course I enjoy so I’m looking forward to it. I feel this golf course suits me. Getting so close last week shows that what I’m working on is right and hopefully it’s just a matter of time.” – Michael Vlismas.

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7th March 2024

Moller makes his mark for Birdies for Rhinos

Birdies for Rhinos, the vision of Sunshine Tour professional Justin Walters in aid of rhino conservation, celebrated its latest champion ahead of this week’s Jonsson Workwear Open at Glendower Golf Club.

Denmark’s Niklas Norgaard Moller added his name to the spectacular rhino trophy after making 417 birdies last year. The money raised by the professionals is donated to Connected Conservation in aid of rhino conversation.

“It feels really good to make a difference,” said Moller.

“I’m from Denmark so I’m far away from where this is all happening, but animals have always been close to my heart and this was an initiative where  I could not just talk about making a difference but actually do something. I feel very proud to be part of it.”

Walters was delighted to hand over the trophy to Moller.

“Niklas is a wonderful player and the rhinos are very happy he’s on board with us. He also the prize to Sabi Sands Game Reserve,” Walters said of an initiative he remains extremely proud of.

“It’s about raising money and awareness for the plight of rhinos. It’s a small part that the professionals on the various tours make. They donate money for every birdie they make in the year and we pool the money and hand it over to Connected Conservation, who have made wonderful strides in protecting wildlife around the world. It started as something small and its gathering momentum now. Tommy Fleetwood came on board last year and he’s brought a lot of clout with him.”

Bruce “Doc” Watson, the Executive Chairman of the Connected Conservation Foundation, also praised the work of the professionals in supporting their cause.

“It’s making a big impact. We now cover 29 reserves primarily in Africa and the East, and this makes a dramatic difference in the work we do.”

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29th February 2024

SDC Championship tees off

Daniel Gibhard, the CEO of the Skills Development Corporation (SDC), tees off the SDC Championship at St Francis Links on Thursday.

This is the second year of the SDC Championship as a Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned tournament and extends the company’s involvement in professional golf, which also includes the SDC Open as a Sunshine Tour and European Challenge Tour event.

“I think sport is the epitome of development. It’s a foundation phase in anything going forward. And golf is the closest thing to life. You have your good and bad days, your ups and downs, your shots into the wind and with the wind. And you always have to adapt. For us as a company, we are always willing and know how to adapt and that’s part of our success,” Gibhard said.

“We always viewed our involvement with the Sunshine Tour, European Challenge Tour and DP World Tour as a long-term investment. The growth in stature of both of our tournaments is proof of our partnership coming to fruition now. I’m proud of what we have achieved, and what we will achieve in the future.”

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21st February 2024

Sunshine Tour remembers Arnold Mentz

The Sunshine Tour is deeply saddened by the passing of former Commissioner Arnold Mentz.

Arnold was a man with a deep love for the game of golf that shone through in his teaching of the game during his time as head professional of Southbroom Golf Club and Stellenbosch Golf Club, his role as Executive Director of the South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB) and a founder trustee of the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation.

His desire to see South African golf thrive was given perfect expression in his role as the Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour.

Even in his later years, Arnold came out of retirement to do what he loved the most – teach golf.

Arnold was a humble servant of our great game who will be sorely missed.

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5th February 2024

Frittelli goes big in Bahrain

Dylan Frittelli won his first DP World Tour title in six years with a two-shot triumph at the Bahrain Championship presented by Bapco Energies.

The South African started the final day at Royal Golf Club with a two-shot lead but was overtaken at the turn and two over for the day after 12 holes as a host of players staked a claim for the trophy.

Frittelli is not a winner on the DP World, PGA and European Challenge Tours for nothing, though, and he made three birdies in four holes from the 13th, signing for a 71 and finishing at 13 under.

Countryman Zander Lombard and Swede Jesper Svensson were his nearest challengers after rounds of 68 and 70 respectively, two shots clear of another South African in Ockie Strydom and Frenchman Frederic Lacroix.

Frittelli enjoyed a fine amateur career, holing the winning putt as the University of Texas won the national collegiate championship in the United States in 2012.

A Challenge Tour graduate in 2016, he won the LYONESS OPEN powered by ORGANIC+ and the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open in 2017 before moving to the PGA TOUR and taking the title at the 2019 John Deere Classic.

After a difficult 2023 which left him contemplating his future, he said this week he was “invigorated” to be back on the DP World Tour after taking up a route for those who finished outside the top 125 on the FedExCup Fall Points List and he has now been rewarded with a first worldwide victory since the summer of 2019.

“It feels great, it feels awesome,” said Frittelli, who missed the cut or withdrew from 23 of his 27 starts on the PGA TOUR last season. “It’s been a long road the last five or six years since I left the DP World Tour and went to the States. It was a pretty tough year last year in America but it feels awesome to back on top right now.

“Last year I was in a couple of spots where I thought I was giving the game up to be honest and looking for something else.

“I found some resolve at the end of last year and got some good work from my physio and my coaches and trainers. I’m glad I persevered and all the support from family and friends has been well worth it.”

He added: “I think it shows my mental toughness, it shows the focus I have and those things that you can’t really quantify. I was swinging it great all week and then all of a sudden couldn’t hit it on the planet on the Sunday round so I’m glad I managed to have the resolve.”

Svensson started the day three shots off the lead but a 24-footer at the second and a lovely approach using the contours of the green at the fourth had him within one.

Strydom recovered from a bogey on the fifth with an approach to 14 feet at the next and an excellent tee-shot on the seventh, and that had him in a three-way tie as Frittelli three-putted the par three.

Svensson and Strydom then both took advantage of the par-five ninth – Svensson finding the green in two and Strydom holing a 21-footer to get up and down – but the 39-year-old bogeyed the tenth and 11th to fall back.

Svensson also dropped a shot on the 11th after sending his tee-shot right but Frittelli missed the green on the 12th to leave him alone at the top.

At that point Frittelli was in a four-way tie one shot off the lead but it was soon a three-man group as Lombard moved to the summit.

After a bogey on the first, the 29-year-old birdied the third after laying up, put an approach to 11 feet at the fifth and got up and down on the ninth.

A tee-shot to tap-in range on the 12th had him in double figures and two putts on the 14th had him on top but Svensson made a two-putt gain of his own on the 13th to edge back ahead.

A three-putt from over 80 feet on the 15th dropped Lombard two back and Frittelli was once again the nearest challenger after a smart up and down on the 13th.

Svensson then made an awful mess of the 14th, going from waste area to sand to a tricky lie as he dropped a shot, handing the lead back to Frittelli who made a two-putt gain after a 398-yard tee-shot.

A 42-foot putt on the 16th moved Frittelli two ahead and while Lombard birdied the 17th from eight feet, he had to settle for a seventh DP World Tour runner-up finish as the leader held his nerve.

Strydom bogeyed the 15th on his way home in a 73, while Lacroix had a birdie-birdie finish in his 70.

Canadian Aaron Cockerill and Swede Sebastian Söderberg finished at eight under, a shot clear of Danes Rasmus Højgaard and Niklas Nørgaard, Swiss Joel Girrbach and Frenchman Julien Guerrier. – DP World Tour

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25th January 2024

Potgieter is youngest winner in Korn Ferry Tour history

Aldrich Potgieter, 19, has become the youngest winner in Korn Ferry Tour history.

Potgieter etched his name into golf lore Wednesday at The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at The Abaco Club, carding 10-under 278 for a two-stroke victory over Quade Cummins and Kyle Westmoreland.

Potgieter (19 years, 4 months, 11 days) surpasses Jason Day for the record as the Korn Ferry Tour’s youngest winner. The precocious South African also becomes the youngest winner on either the PGA TOUR or Korn Ferry Tour since Ralph Guldahl at the 1931 Santa Monica Open (19 years, 2 months, 3 days).

After 20-year-old Nick Dunlap’s victory at The American Express last week, the youth movement in professional golf is in full force.

Additionally, Potgieter is the fourth teenager to win on the Korn Ferry Tour, joining Day, Sungjae Im and Akshay Bhatia. The previous three are all PGA TOUR winners, with Day winning 13 TOUR titles, Im winning two TOUR events, and Bhatia capturing his first TOUR title at the 2023 Barracuda Championship while playing on Special Temporary Membership.

“I was just trying to make the cut… improve on the status. I didn’t expect this today,” Potgieter said. “I was looking at the leaderboard a couple times and just trying to move up, move up slowly and give myself some chances on the putting green. I felt really comfortable, gave myself those opportunities and holed some of them.

“We saw Nick Dunlap win last week, and that was a reminder that it can be done,” Potgieter said. “I’m just happy to be playing here and to get the opportunity to play here. To make history, that’s just another bonus on top of the win.”

Potgieter began the final round at 3-under par and five strokes behind 54-hole leader Kyle Westmoreland.

After birdies on three of the first four holes, Potgieter bounced back from a bogey at the par-4 seventh with an eagle at the par-5 eighth. A three-putt bogey at the par-3 10th would be Potgieter’s only stumble on the back nine, and he countered it with birdies at the par-4 12th and par-5 14th.

Having pulled even with Quade Cummins, the clubhouse leader at 8-under par who could only watch the leaderboard after he carded a 7-under 65 for the low round of the tournament, Potgieter birdied the par-4 16th for the outright lead. Potgieter closed out the victory and a final-round 7-under 65 with a birdie at the par-5 18th.

Windy conditions made scoring difficult for much of the week, as Potgieter’s winning total of 10-under 278 marked the second-highest winning score in the seven iterations of the event. Only Rafael Campos’ 7-under 281 en route to victory in 2019 was a higher winning total at The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at The Abaco Club.

Potgieter turned professional last summer following a solo-64th finish at the 2023 U.S. Open. His amateur career included a breakthrough victory at the 2022 Amateur Championship, where, roughly three months before his 18th birthday, he became the second-youngest winner in the history of the storied event.

“I was playing really good golf from a young age, so I thought, from my view, college was like an extra four years of preparing to become professional,” Potgieter said. “I know they have great opportunities, great teams behind them, and you can see a lot of the players are coming from college teams are doing really good. That was an option, but I wanted to get the experience done and just make sure my game is good enough, and just grind it out… learn stuff these guys are going to have to learn now coming out of college.

“After winning (The Amateur), I had to make that decision, and I thought turning pro was a good one.”

Ironically, Potgieter made his professional debut at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Compliance Solutions Championship, finishing T35 as a sponsor exemption a week after his final start as an amateur at the U.S. Open. A week later, Potgieter made his first PGA TOUR start as a professional at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, which he played via a sponsor exemption. Three weeks later, Potgieter Monday qualified for the Korn Ferry Tour’s NV5 Invitational presented by Old National Bank.

Potgieter’s made cut at the U.S. Open also granted him an exemption to Second Stage of 2023 PGA TOUR Q-School presented by Korn Ferry. Playing at the Kinderlou Forest Golf Club site in Valdosta, Georgia, Potgieter won by four strokes, earning him guaranteed starts for the first eight events of the 2024 Korn Ferry Tour season.

Although Potgieter missed his first opportunity at a PGA TOUR card at Final Stage of PGA TOUR Q-School presented by Korn Ferry (he finished T81, and only the top five and ties earned TOUR membership), it may not be long before he earns a promotion to golf’s biggest stage.

“Now it’s just adapting to playing every week,” Potgieter said, before noting what he will focus on for the remainder of 2024 as a fully exempt member. “Just keeping the mind straight and moving forward every week, and just forgetting the bad stuff, and trying to move forward every day.” – Korn Ferry Tour (Image: Getty).

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17th December 2023

AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open inspires growth of golf in Mauritius

After seven editions, the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open has made an undoubted impact inside the ropes as one of the most popular Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned tournaments, but it’s impact outside the ropes on the youth of Mauritius is also being felt.

This year’s tournament at the spectacular La Réserve Golf Links included a golf clinic in association with the Mauritius Golf Federation, the AfrAsia Bank Foundation and the local chapter of the global charity Caritas.

Roughly 50 children from diverse backgrounds gathered on the driving range and were given an introduction to golf by several professionals who competed this week as part of a general focus on growing the game amongst the youth on the island.

And the enthusiasm for the game of those who attended surprised even Dylan Frittelli, a former winner of the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open.

“It’s amazing to see how once they’ve figured out the grip and the swing and they hit a good shot, they turn around to their friends and you can just see the pure joy on their faces. Seeing that is pretty cool for us as professionals as well,” said Frittelli.

It’s a feeling Frittelli himself remembers.

“I can remember being six years old and for the first time hitting a ball out of the middle of the club, and that feeling just running through your hands and up your arms. That’s the feeling that made me want to always go back to the driving range and made me wake my dad up early in the morning to take me.

“That feeling when you strike a golf ball well for the first time wasn’t a feeling I’d ever had playing any other sports. It’s good to see just how keen the kids here are on golf.”

The golf clinic in partnership with the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open provides a seamless pathway that allows a young Mauritius golfer to be exposed to the game and then see at the highest level where it could take him or her.

And it’s clearly working as the tournament’s aspirational effect has increased participation in golf on the island.

“When we look at the figures, we can see a significant increase in the number of licenses,” said Yannick Merven, President of the Mauritius Golf Federation (MGF). “Compared to last year we have a more than 12% increase in licenses, and especially amongst the juniors where we are seeing growth of more than 25%. The AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open definitely contributes to this growth of the game. This tournament creates dreams for our younger generation and for young Mauritians to one day want to compete on tour.”

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13th December 2023

La Réserve Golf Links a unique challenge for AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open field

Both Louis Oosthuizen, the co-designer of La Réserve Golf Links, and Marcel Siem, one of the few professionals to have played it before it hosts this week’s AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, have predicted that the newest golf course on the island will demand a variety of shots from the golfers gathered for the seventh edition of this Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour event.

In working with renowned golf course architect Peter Matkovich to create this magnificent links-style course, Oosthuizen said he wanted to bring back an element to the professional game he is passionate about.

“I love links golf because I believe in shot-making and I feel there should be more than one way to play a golf course. With links-style golf you’ve got to see the shot, and sometimes it’s not the prettiest shot but it’s the one that will work for you on that particular hole – a lot of shaping and just feeling your way around the golf course. I think in today’s game where it’s often about tee it up and hit it as far as you can, a course like this with the wind here hopefully brings a bit more skill into the game,” he said.

Having played the golf course more than most before this week, Siem concurred that this is exactly what La Réserve Golf Links will demand from the field.

“They’ve done a fantastic job with this golf course,” said Siem, an ambassador of Heritage Golf Club who now lives on the island of Mauritius.

“It will be a tough test. I hope the wind will blow as usual in Mauritius. You have to hit some good shots here, especially when the wind blows. The wind comes off the left most of the time, about 11 or 12 of the holes, so it’s made for a draw player. The fairways and greens are really good, and there are some really tough holes out here.”

The new golf course adds significantly to an AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open that has once again drawn a quality field, including defending champion Antoine Rozner.

“You can’t beat this. It’s just an absolute pleasure to come back here every year. I love the atmosphere in Mauritius and I love the golf courses,” said the Frenchman, whose victory in this event last December led to a memorable rest of the season where he achieved his best finish in a Major of tied 20th in The Open after playing his way into the top five going into the final round.

“My experience of The Open was huge for me. I think that is going to help me a lot for the next chapter of my career. The Majors would be the next step for me, for sure.”

Fellow Frenchman Mattieu Pavon returns to a tournament where he’s also had good finishes, and with the renewed confidence of claiming his first victory on the DP World Tour last season.

“It’s a great experience to come here every year. This is such a beautiful island with some great golf courses, and I think La Réserve Golf Links is very challenging with beautiful views.”

And former AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open champion Dylan Frittelli is back at a tournament that sparked bigger things in his own career.

“My win here in 2017 was huge. I’d played one season on the DP World Tour when I won this event and it propelled me to getting a PGA Tour card the following year, and then I had my win there. Having progressed through the Sunshine Tour, which does a fantastic job with these co-sanctioned events with the DP World Tour, I really look back at this win as having given me those bigger dreams.”

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The 2023 AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open has once again drawn a glittering array of blue-chip sponsors, including AfrAsia Bank, Rogers Group, Rogers Hospitality, Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority, IBL, Beachcomber Resorts and Hotels, Heritage Villas Valriche, Phoenix Beverages, Jacobs Coffee, Pro Carts, Mautourco, KOHLER, Häagen Dazs and Oxenham.