16th September 2022

Friendly tip carries Van Niekerk into Vodacom Origins lead

SOUTHBROOM, KwaZulu-Natal – A tip from his friend and close challenger Sean Bradley has seen Danie van Niekerk take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series San Lameer event on Friday, with the Lichtenburg golfer taking an 11-under-par total into the weekend.

Van Niekerk shot a six-under-par 66 on Friday, the joint best round of the day, to go with his five-under 67 on the opening day, in a remarkable turnaround in form. The 34-year-old has missed his last three cuts, making it eight missed paydays in total this season.

“I felt last week that I played very poorly but my friend Sean Bradley helped me a lot on Monday and Tuesday this week,” Van Niekerk said. “So now I’m just hitting my small fade again and I’ve stopped trying to hit the ball both ways.

“San Lameer Country Club does suit me because I don’t really hit it long but I just focus on keeping the ball in play, but the big thing is I found my swing again.

“I started quite slowly today with four pars, but then I picked it up with four birdies in a row from the fifth. I’m very happy with the way I played, although I got a bit nervous on the last couple of holes and bogeyed the last.

“It’s the first time I’m leading a Sunshine Tour event and it feels good. I’m pretty excited about the final round and I will have the exact same game-plan: Just try and keep it in play and make some putts,” Van Niekerk said.

Wynand Dingle shared the overnight lead on six-under-par and he roared to nine-under early in the second round by birdieing three of his first four holes, having teed off on the 10th. He suffered the frustration of dropping a shot at the par-five 17th, but three more birdies on the front nine saw climb to 11-under. But then there was more frustration with a bogey on the par-three ninth hole, his last.

The 38-year-old Dingle goes into the final round just a shot off Van Niekerk’s lead and has been rampant in terms of consistency this season – he has made eight successive cuts now and has seven top-20 finishes in 11 events. His hopes of a maiden Sunshine Tour win have so far been thwarted, but he will be focused on stopping that on Saturday.

Bradley is in a tie for third, two shots back on nine-under, with Jaco Prinsloo, who raced up the leaderboard with a 67 on Friday.

Bradley’s 69 was a continuation of the good form he showed in finishing third in the Gary and Vivienne Player Challenge last weekend at Selborne Park Golf Club, and the 66 he shot in the first round at San Lameer.

Of the other golfers who shared the first-round lead, Ockie Strydom endured a disappointing day with just two birdies and three bogeys seeing him slip down into a tie for 12th on five-under; a double-bogey on the par-three 16th saw Herman Loubser also shoot a 73 to lie five-under, and Doug McGuigan also posted a 73 to be in that tie.

But the biggest exasperation of all was Matthew Spacey’s as he crashed to a five-over 77 and finished on one-under to miss the cut by a stroke. Double-bogeys on the fourth and seventh holes were his downfall.


15th September 2022

Magnificent seven chasing victory in Vodacom Origins

SOUTHBROOM, KwaZulu-Natal – Merrick Bremner’s front nine was littered with birdies and bogeys as he took the route less travelled into a share of the lead after the first round of the Vodacom Origins of Golf San Lameer on Thursday.

Bremner finished with an excellent 66 to share the lead on six-under-par with six other golfers, but none of Wynand Dingle, Ockie Strydom, Herman Loubser, Matthew Spacey, Doug McGuigan or Sean Bradley made quite as dramatic a start to their round as Bremner.

The 36-year-old from Bremner made par on the 498-metre par-five first hole, but then the rollercoaster ride began with two birdies being followed by a bogey at the par-three fourth, another pair of birdies before a second dropped shot on the par-four seventh, and then a birdie-four and a birdie-two to go out in just 32 strokes.

Bremner’s back nine was far more sedate as he was bogey-free and picked up back-to-back birdies on the par-four 12th and par-five 13th holes.

“It was definitely quite an eventful front nine,” Bremner agreed. “But it was tricky because I would hit a good shot and still end up with bogey, but I gave myself lots of chances.

“I’m definitely very pleased with the round because I had a couple of weeks off and it was nice to return in a rich vein of form,” Bremner said.

A man as experienced in coastal conditions as Bremner, who grew up in Durban and has won down the road at the Wild Coast Sun and in the 2019 Vodacom Origins of Golf Series event at Humewood, was not going to be troubled by the wind on Thursday, which in any case was more predictable than the blustery gales that blew on Wednesday.

“I wasn’t too fazed by the wind blowing, even though it was weird – it felt stronger than it was. But I like it when it blows a bit, it separates the field.

“I just execute my game-plan and take what comes. I definitely feel like my game is trending in the right direction, and it seems I now have the right mix in terms of when to play and when to rest,” Bremner said.

Strydom had the chance to finish the day as the sole leader on seven-under-par, but he bogeyed the par-three ninth hole, his last.

Spacey, the 31-year-old from Dainfern, started birdie-birdie but then finished twice as well with four successive birdies from the 15th hole to shoot up the leaderboard into the seven-way tie for the lead.


14th September 2022

Otto applauds opportunities for young pros

SOUTHBROOM, KwaZulu-Natal – The most obvious thing young, up-and-coming golfers need is the opportunity to compete, and veteran Sunshine Tour campaigner Hennie Otto has praised the sponsors of this week’s event at San Lameer, Vodacom, for the critical role they have played in the development of the sport in this country.

Otto has been on tour since 1997/98, when it was actually known as the Vodacom Tour, and is teeing it up this week in the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series event at San Lameer Country Club as one of the favourites, given his ninth position on the current Luno Order of Merit.

As a senior statesman of the tour and someone who has enjoyed its benefits so much, Otto is eager to ensure the younger generation get the same exposure and rewards.

“Vodacom have been involved in golf in this country for more than 20 years and what they’ve really done is develop golfers,” Otto said after the first round of the Vodacom Origins of Golf Pro-Am at San Lameer.

“Every young golfer needs opportunity in order to have a successful career, and if nobody creates those opportunities for them, then they won’t get them.

“I’ve played with Mr Mzimba [William, CEO Vodacom Business Group] a few times in these Vodacom Origins of Golf Pro-Ams and he tells me about the dozen or so development players they help. Hopefully those guys really come through, and even if just five of them do then it is still something special.

“The tour is definitely growing and I think in the years to come, it is just going to get bigger,” Otto said.

While the Sunshine Tour has seen a number of very promising young players shine this year, the fairways are still very much the lair of experienced pros like Otto, Jean Hugo, who is seventh on the Luno Order of Merit, and Jaco van Zyl, who won last weekend at Selborne Park Golf Club.

The 46-year-old Otto is still hitting the ball well and looked in hot form last weekend when he finished second to Van Zyl at the Gary and Vivienne Player Challenge. It was his fourth top-six finish this season, a ray of hope after a couple of very tough years following the passing of his wife in 2020.

“As a senior, some of the guys call me ‘Oom’, but this ‘Oom” can still play now and again,” Otto smiles. “I’ve been doing nicely, I just haven’t finished off like I want to.

“But I’m close to where I want to be both mentally and physically, although I’m a bit overweight – I’ve had a few braais,” he laughs.

“But there are nice tournaments coming up, we’re building up and up for the big ones at the end of the year, and the more you finish up the leaderboard, the more confident you get.

“I’ve played all those tournaments before, I know the places, so I’ll be even more comfortable,” Otto said.


13th September 2022

Vodacom Origins focused on giving back

SOUTHBROOM, KwaZulu-Natal – A focused consistency has underpinned the development clinics on the Vodacom Origins of Golf since its inception in 2004, and this consistency shone through on day one of this week’s tournament at San Lameer Country Club on Tuesday.

Around 20 learners from disadvantaged areas on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast attended the development clinic that forms part of every Vodacom Origins of Golf tournament. And Vodacom’s Eleni Kwinana – the Executive Head of Department for Vodacom Business Marketing KZN – was delighted to see young golfers she recognised from a previous Vodacom Origins golf clinic in 2020.

“To give young kids from areas where they would never be exposed to golf the chance to get some professional coaching is very heartwarming, and I even recognised some of the boys and girls from two years ago at one of our previous tournaments. It was brilliant to see them again,” Kwinana said.

“Youth education is one of our key pillars at Vodacom and helping communities has almost become a way of life for us. We don’t see CSI programmes as being something separate from our day-to-day work. Where we see a need we help or we find someone who can help.”

Helping people from all walks of life is par for the course for Vodacom, and golf has enjoyed their patronage and support for longer than most sports with the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series now the longest-running series of pro-am events on the Sunshine Tour.

“We really enjoy seeing the professionals and amateurs connect at our tournaments. Especially in this post-Covid time because people have been starved of human contact,” Kwinana said.


Bezuidenhout joins field for 2022 Nedbank Golf Challenge

Christiaan Bezuidenhout will join a strong South African challenge for the 40th edition of the Nedbank Golf Challenge at the Gary Player Country Club from November 10-13, 2022, on a golf course where he memorably etched his name alongside some of the greats of the game.

Bezuidenhout returns to Sun City with fond memories of his triumph in the 2020 South African Open on this golf course, which saw him claim his third DP World Tour title that December.

“The Nedbank Golf Challenge is an iconic event for all of us as South Africans and it’s going to be really special to have the fans back and supporting us as we all try and win a tournament that is very close to our hearts. I cannot wait to get back to Sun City and play in such an historic edition of the Nedbank Golf Challenge.”

“To have won at the Gary Player Country Club is an ambition of any South African professional because it is such a great test of golf, and for me to have done so in the South African Open made it that much more special. I love the golf course and the whole atmosphere of the Gary Player Country Club.”

This will be Bezuidenhout’s second appearance in the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

The 28-year-old takes his place in the field for “Africa’s Major” at the end of a landmark year for him.

Bezuidenhout finished as the leading South African on the PGA TOUR last season in 51st place on the FedEx Cup Standings. He came close to a breakthrough victory when he ended tied second in the John Deere Classic.

His consistency, which included making 20 out of 24 cuts, saw him achieve another first in his career when he was selected as one of countryman Trevor Immelman’s Captain’s Picks for The Presidents Cup at the end of September.

Bezuidenhout joins a field that already includes countrymen Dean Burmester and Thriston Lawrence, defending champion Tommy Fleetwood of England and American Will Zalatoris.

Tickets for the Nedbank Golf Challenge, starting at R40 for the Pro-Ams and R250 for Tournament Rounds, are available here, while Hospitality Packages for the Circa Champions Club, Circa Pavilion or Circa 18th Green can be purchased here. The 2019 edition of the Nedbank Golf Challenge delivered record attendance figures and sold-out hospitality.


12th September 2022

Burmester confirmed for 2022 AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open

Dean Burmester, South Africa’s latest PGA TOUR member, has confirmed his place in the 2022 AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open at Mont Choisy Le Golf from 15-18 December which is co-sanctioned by the DP World Tour and Sunshine Tour.

Burmester, an ambassador for Mont Choisy Le Golf as well as tournament sponsor Beachcomber Resorts & Hotels, returns to Mauritius as a newly minted PGA TOUR member after securing his status for next season through the Korn Ferry Tour. He also achieved another notable first of his best finish in a Major when he ended tied 11th in the 150th Open Championship in St Andrews this July.

The two-time DP World Tour champion and eight-time Sunshine Tour winner is looking forward to improving on his top finish of tied 20th in the 2015 AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open as he plays a tournament that is close to his heart.

“I have a proud association with Mauritius through Mont Choisy Le Golf and Beachcomber Resorts & Hotels. Mauritius, and the Trou aux Biches Beachcomber, has always been a destination that I love going to, especially with my family. The fact that this year’s tournament will be played at Mont Choisy Le Golf for the first time made it an even easier decision for me to end what has been a memorable year on the beautiful island of Mauritius,” said Burmester.

“I love what Peter Matkovich has done with his design of Mont Choisy Le Golf and I can’t wait to see how the course plays under championship conditions.”

From his first Sunshine Tour victory in the 2013 Polokwane Classic, Burmester has been a consistent winner on his home Tour. He was able to translate this into his breakthrough on the DP World Tour when he won the 2017 Tshwane Open. The 33-year-old South African added a second DP World Tour title in the 2021 Tenerife Open and has climbed as high as 64th on the Official World Golf Ranking.

The 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 Le Golf, the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA), Jaguar, Rogers, Heritage Resorts, IBL, 3G Mobile, Phoenix Beverages, Air Mauritius, Emtel, Mautourco and Hertz.


10th September 2022

Van Zyl victorious in Gary and Vivienne Player Challenge

PENNINGTON, KwaZulu-Natal – Jaco van Zyl is close to getting back to his best as he ended a six-and-a-half year winning drought by claiming the Gary and Vivienne Player Challenge title at Selborne Park Golf Club on Saturday.

Van Zyl began the final round with a one-stroke lead and finished strongly to shoot a three-under-par 69 and post a 14-under-par winning total, finishing two shots clear of Hennie Otto.

In a thrilling finish, Otto was close behind but a bogey at the par-four 13th and then a string of pars coming in saw the veteran fall just short after a final day 70.

Sean Bradley also flirted with the lead, but a double-bogey six at the penultimate hole put paid to his chances, a birdie at the last seeing him claim third place on his own on 11-under after finishing with a 69.

Pieter Moolman pushed hard too, but a pair of double-bogeys on the back nine saw him finish in a tie for fourth on 10-under with Jaco Ahlers (68).

Van Zyl gave them all a sniff when he faltered with a bogey at the par-four 14th, but he showed his composure of old as he then birdied the par-three 15th and then followed up with another birdie on the 17th.

“I was playing nicely the whole time and I felt I was hitting really good putts but they just weren’t going in,” Van Zyl said. “I actually made a seven-footer for bogey on 14, and it sounds strange, but that got me some momentum.

“On 15 I sank a big putt that turned 15 feet off the left and that really got the confidence going. Then I hit a great wedge on 17 to about two feet, and to have a two-shot lead on the 18th hole is always nice.

“I’m over the moon with the win, it’s been a rocky road and I’ve been fighting a lot of demons. So it’s a real sense of accomplishment. In golf, it’s a case of how well you are doing both on and off the course, and I can sense I am on the right track,” Van Zyl said after his 16th Sunshine Tour win and his first title since triumphing at the Eye of Africa PGA Championship in February 2016.

To win an event bearing the Gary Player name was also a tremendous joy for 43-year-old Van Zyl.

“Gary was our team captain at the Rio Olympics in 2016, which was very special for me. I spent quite a bit of time talking with him in Rio and it’s really nice to now win his tournament,” Van Zyl said.

Van Zyl is now up to 14th in the Luno Order of Merit and is going to be taking renewed confidence into the lucrative summer events on tour.


9th September 2022

Van Zyl feeling right at home in lead

PENNINGTON, KwaZulu-Natal – First-round leader Brooklin Bailey spoke about feeling comfortable on the Bermuda Grass of the Selborne Park Golf Club and feeling right at home was also the author of Jaco van Zyl’s success on Friday as he claimed the lead after the second round of the Gary & Vivienne Player Challenge.

Van Zyl fired a tremendous seven-under-par 65 on Friday to go into the final round on 11-under-par, one stroke ahead of another multiple Sunshine Tour winner in Hennie Otto.

The 43-year-old Van Zyl has played the short, but challenging Selborne course many times, having previously lived further down the South Coast in Port Shepstone.

“I lived in Port Shepstone for five years after school and I won provincial tournaments here, so I have good memories. It’s a great golf course and it suits me down to the ground. You don’t need to bomb the ball 350 metres here, you just keep it in position and manage your way around,” Van Zyl said.

The Pretoria-born golfer, who shot 68 in the first round to trail Bailey by four strokes, made the ideal start to his second round as he birdied the first three holes. He parred his way to the turn and then went right back on to script with three birdies in four holes from the 10th. A three-putt on the sloping par-three 15th green cost him a bogey, but Van Zyl finished strong by birdieing the 16th and 18th holes.

“You need to capitalise on the first few holes here, fortunately I did that and then I knew that there was a low score out there. On 15 there was just a very tough flag right on the slope, and even though I hit the ball pin-high and made what I thought was a good putt, the ball still went six feet down the hill and I missed that one coming back,” Van Zyl said.

The Benoni resident made a bungle of his last two Sunshine Tour events, missing the cut at the SunBet Challenge Time Square and the Vodacom Origins of Golf Highland Gate, but he made a strong start to the season with three top-20 finishes before that.

Van Zyl has been through a tough time over the last couple of years, but he felt that Friday’s 65 was the first time in a while that his score has reflected how well he has been hitting the ball.

“I’ve been struggling for the last couple of years with injuries and some personal issues, but now it all seems to be falling into place. My game has been there, but my scores just haven’t reflected it. But that’s what makes this game so challenging: You think you’re heading in the right direction but then you find yourself on a dirt road for a couple of weeks. So it was nice to be back on the tar today, and hopefully that will become a double-lane road and then a four-lane highway soon,” Van Zyl chuckled.

Otto started his round on the 10th, and an eagle-two on the par-four 18thhole saw him go out in 32, but the veteran dropped three shots on the front nine to finish with a 68. But he is right in the mix on 10-under-par, as are Pieter Moolman (69) and the in-form Albert Venter (70) on nine-under.

Bailey also started on the 10th and birdied the par-three 11th hole, before back-to-back bogeys on 12 and 13 set him back. The American would go on to drop five more shots, including a double-bogey on the par-four eighth, but he also collected six more birdies to finish with a 72 and share fifth place on eight-under, just three strokes back, with Sean Bradley (71).


8th September 2022

Texan Bailey leads in Selborne

PENNINGTON, KwaZulu-Natal – American Brooklin Bailey shattered the peace at the Selborne Park Golf Club on Thursday with a thunderous start as he cruised to a 64 and the first-round lead in the Gary & Vivienne Player Challenge.

Bailey eagled the par-five first hole on the course adjoining the Indian Ocean and then picked up birdies on the next two holes for a phenomenal four-under start through three holes, and although his run was ended by a bogey at the par-three fourth, he parred his way through to the turn.

The 28-year-old then cruised through the back nine in five-under 31 to post an eight-under-par 64, finishing the first day one shot ahead of the South African trio of Ruan Korb, Sean Bradley and Albert Venter.

The dropped shot on the fourth hole was Bailey’s only blemish as he collected seven birdies and an eagle to post his lowest round since joining the Sunshine Tour last year.

The Texan seems to have found some form after his maiden top-10 finish in the Sunshine Tour’s previous event – the Vodacom Origins of Golf Highland Gate tournament at the end of August.

Bailey worked his magic after Korb and Bradley, playing in the same three-ball, had already posted their 65s, so he did well to go under their marks.

Bailey said after his round that he just felt right at home from the get-go in the R1.2 million event.

“It’s the Bermuda Grass for me, we play on it in Texas and I just love it, my confidence just gets higher when I’m on it. Playing in the wind is also something we do a lot of in Texas, so all-in-all it was helpful for me,” Bailey said.

“You need to be patient on the Selborne course and I like that as well, but I also like being able to give it a go when you can. I like to know you can push it when you want to as well.

“I’ve just fallen in love with the Sunshine Tour, I think there are great opportunities here. The tour does a fantastic job of providing opportunities to advance our careers. Everyone here just wants to see you thrive and it’s healthy competition.”

The tournament is a tribute to the late wife of South Africa’s greatest golfer and the continuation of Gary and Vivienne Player’s legacy through the work of their foundation.

Bailey feels a connection to the nine-time Major champion and recognises the lustre of the event bearing the Player name.

“I actually watched Gary, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer play the Par-Three Tournament at Augusta for the last time together, so to be in contention in this event, attached to a golfer like Gary, is amazing.

“It makes me really want to sketch my own name in golfing history as well,” Bailey said.

Korb’s round caught alight after he began with three straights pars – despite both the first and third holes being par-fives – as the 28-year-old fired off four birdies on the trot from the fourth hole, and then also birdied nine and 10 for good measure. After his only bogey of the day, on the par-three 15th, he finished birdie-birdie for his joint-best round of the season.

Bradley started his round birdie-birdie and picked up another shot at the par-four ninth hole, and also completed his round birdie-birdie after gaining successive shots on the 12th and 13th holes. It was the Royal Cape golfer’s best round of the season.

The in-form Venter, who is second on the Luno Order of Merit after his victory at the SunBet Challenge at Time Square last month, also reached seven-under-par as he blazed home in five-under 31.

Five players, including veteran Hennie Otto and amateur Kyle de Beer, shot six-under-par 66s.


30th August 2022

Memorable season earns Lawrence a debut in ‘Africa’s Major’

Thriston Lawrence, who this past weekend won his second DP World Tour title, will make his debut in this year’s Nedbank Golf Challenge at the Gary Player Country Club at Sun City from November 10-13, 2022, in what has already been a season of memorable firsts for the South African.

Lawrence broke through with his maiden DP World Tour victory in the Joburg Open at Randpark Golf Club in November 2021. It was an historic victory as he became the first winner in the new DP World Tour era. He then added a second triumph in the Omega European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre in Switzerland this past Sunday, where he beat Matt Wallace in a playoff.

The Joburg Open also forms part of The Open Qualifying Series, and Lawrence’s victory there earned him a place in his first Major at this year’s 150th Open in St Andrews where he finished tied 42nd.

The 25-year-old South African will now take up his place in “Africa’s Major” for the first time in his career, and in the prestigious 40thanniversary of this iconic tournament.

Lawrence adds to a field which already includes defending champion and European Ryder Cup star Tommy Fleetwood, PGA TOUR winner Will Zalatoris, and fellow South African and multiple DP World Tour champion Dean Burmester.

“I’m absolutely delighted to be joining such a quality field for the 40thanniversary of the Nedbank Golf Challenge. My breakthrough DP World Tour victory in the Joburg Open opened so many doors for me this season, and to follow that up with a second victory in the Omega European Masters is very pleasing. I also played in my first Major, which was an historic one with it being the 150th Open in St Andrews. I feel just as privileged to be teeing it up in the historic 40th edition of ‘Africa’s Major’ at Sun City this November,” said Lawrence.

Lawrence’s Joburg Open victory set him up for a strong season on the DP World Tour. He had a run of three top-10s in three consecutive DP World Tour and Sunshine Tour co-sanctioned tournaments when he finished tied second in the Magical Kenya Open, tied ninth in the MyGolfLife Open hosted by Pecanwood, and tied eighth in the Steyn City Championship. He followed this with a third-place finish in the Horizon Irish Open and tied eighth in the D+D Real Czech Masters before breaking through with his victory in the Omega European Masters which has carried Lawrence into the top 10 on the DP World Tour Rankings.

Tickets for the Nedbank Golf Challenge, starting at R40 for the Pro-Ams and R250 for Tournament Rounds, are available here, while Hospitality Packages for the Circa Champions Club, Circa Pavilion or Circa 18th Green can be purchased here. The 2019 edition of the Nedbank Golf Challenge delivered record attendance figures and sold-out hospitality.