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1st October 2022

Korb wins Vodacom Origins in St Francis

Golf can be a terribly cruel game at times and while leader Ockie Strydom was busy racking up a quadruple-bogey eight at the par-four 11th hole, Ruan Korb was putting the finishing touches to his brilliant round of 63 by sinking yet another birdie putt on the final hole to win the Vodacom Origins of Golf St Francis Links tournament on Saturday.

Korb’s third successive birdie, to go with two-in-a-row on the 12th and 13thholes, saw him shoot an astonishing nine-under-par in the final round, leaving him on 13-under-par for the tournament.

Strydom had been on 15-under before the awful shock of his eight on the 11th, and thereafter he could only par his way through to the close, settling for a level-par 72 after being four-under at the turn. That left the 37-year-old in second place on 11-under, two behind Korb.

Veteran Doug McGuigan also challenged for the title, but bogeyed the last two holes when pushing for birdies to tie Korb, with the 52-year-old closing with a 71 that left him on nine-under and in third place for the tournament.

The 28-year-old Korb admitted that it was just one of those idyllic days when every putt he looked at, he seemed to sink.

“I really enjoyed myself out there today, the weather was better and my putting was definitely the main reason for my win, every putt just seemed to find the bottom of the cup,” Korb said.

“My putting was certainly much better than when I finished second in the SunBet Challenge Time Square in August.”

The Silver Lakes golfer, who had begun the final round seven shots off the pace, had picked up decent momentum on the front nine with three birdies and a bogey in his first four holes, but he really began pushing for the title with a brilliant run that saw him eagle the par-five sixth and then pick up shots at the next two holes.

He was now 10-under for the tournament and in striking distance, but his charge was reversed as he had a 15-minute delay at the ninth tee while the group in front searched for balls. Korb lost concentration and bogeyed both nine and 10.

“I said before the round that if I could get to 14-under then I would have a chance, but waiting on the ninth was a bit of a momentum-breaker,” Korb said.

“But after those two bogeys I just tried to get calm and said to my caddie that we have to do something now otherwise the win is going to get away from us.”

Knowing he had to be positive, Korb birdied both the par-four 12th and the par-five 13th into the westerly wind, and then, with holes 16 and 17 heading in the opposite direction, he took advantage with two more birdies.

The three on the par-four 18th was the icing on the cake for his second Sunshine Tour victory, his first coming at the Time Square Casino Challenge at Wingate Park Country Club in 2020.

“It’s a big confidence-booster to win at this time of year, with the big summer events coming up,” Korb said.


203 – Ruan Korb 71 69 63

205 – Ockie Strydom 66 67 72

207 – Doug McGuigan 69 67 71

208 – Hennie O’Kennedy 69 68 71

209 – Dylan Naidoo 67 67 75

210 – Bradley Bawden 72 68 70, Jayden Schaper 72 67 71, Brooklin Bailey 67 72 71, Heinrich Bruiners 65 74 71, Keenan Davidse 70 67 73

212 – Dan Erickson 69 72 71, Christiaan Basson 73 68 71, Jaco Prinsloo 67 72 73

213 – Luca Filippi 71 75 67, Wynand Dingle 72 73 68, Adam Breen 70 73 70, Hennie Otto 70 70 73, Riekus Nortje 72 67 74

214 – Jacques P de Villiers 72 73 69, Estiaan Conradie 71 71 72, MJ Viljoen 73 69 72, Herman Loubser 75 67 72

215 – James Kamte 71 69 75, Peter Karmis 69 70 76

216 – Therion Nel 72 74 70

217 – Lyle Rowe 69 77 71, Pieter Moolman 70 74 73, Kyle Barker 73 71 73, Matthew Spacey 70 72 75, Steve Surry 69 73 75, Dean O’Riley 69 70 78

218 – Rupert Kaminski 76 70 72, Jean Hugo 70 75 73

219 – Madalitso Muthiya 70 76 73, Jacques Blaauw 75 70 74, Luke Jerling 69 70 80, Jake Redman 70 69 80

220 – Wallie Coetsee 72 73 75, Sean Cronje 74 71 75, Callum Mowat 75 69 76

221 – Michael Kok 76 70 75, Richard Joubert 78 68 75, Kevin Rhoderick 70 71 80

223 – Maverick Faber 76 69 78

224 – Aneurin Gounden 72 74 78, Sean Bradley 71 74 79, Nikhil Rama 70 73 81

225 – Danie Van Niekerk 71 75 79

227 – Clancy Waugh 74 72 81


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30th September 2022

Steady Strydom leading Vodacom Origins

CAPE ST FRANCIS, Eastern Cape – Ockie Strydom woke up on Friday morning and thought it was going to be a wet and miserable at the St Francis Links, but it ended up being a happy day for the 37-year-old as he was sitting high, and dry, at the top of the leaderboard after the second round of the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series event there.

Strydom shot a five-under-par 67 on Friday to go to 11-under for the tournament, leading Dylan Naidoo, who also shot a 67, by one stroke.

“When I woke up this morning, I thought it was going to be a very wet day and driving to the course, I kept wondering if I should turn back and get my rain shoes,” Strydom said.

“In the end I didn’t drive back and it was as wet as it can be when we started the round. But it actually turned into a lovely day in the end. It was overcast, but the wind largely stayed away, until it came up a bit again with five holes to go on the back nine.”

Strydom, who began the day one stroke off the lead, made a quiet start to his round with just a single birdie on the front nine, coming at the par-five third hole.

It was actually a bogey – his only one of the day – at the par-four 11th that gave birth to an astonishing run of five successive birdies from the 12th that gave the Serengeti Golf Estate golfer the lead.

“I made sure I played good golf into the wind, but on the first nine I kept hitting all my putts short. Then on 11 I had a 15-foot birdie putt and I told my caddie there’s no way I’m leaving it short. So I hit it eight foot past and then missed the putt coming back,” Strydom explained.

“So I had a harsh little chat with myself walking to the next tee, I thought I must get something going now, take advantage of being downwind and give myself a cushion for the last hole when you’re back into the wind.”

Apart from Naidoo, the other golfers chasing Strydom on the final day will be Doug McGuigan (67) on eight-under-par and Hennie O’Kennedy (68) and Keenan Davidse (67) on seven-under.

Strydom has been leading many times before and he knows what he has to do.

“I’m just going to do the same as I’m doing at the moment. Try keep the ball in play and hit the greens. If I can make five putts, be five-under tomorrow then I’ll be in with a good shout. I must just be patient,” Strydom said.

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29th September 2022

Bruiners beats wind to lead in St Francis

Heinrich Bruiners grew up in George, a little more than three hours along the N2 in a westerly direction from Cape St Francis, so a little bit of blustery wind is never going to give him grey hairs.

So although the wind almost reached 30km/h on the opening day of the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series at the St Francis Links on Thursday, it was no bother for Bruiners as he cruised to a marvellous, bogey-free, seven-under-par 65 to claim a one-stroke lead after the first round.

Things became a little gory for the rest of the field though, with only 31 of the 83 golfers ending the first day under par. Bruiners’ nearest challengers are Serengeti’s Ockie Strydom (66), and American Brooklin Bailey and a pair of South Africans in Dylan Naidoo and Jaco Prinsloo on 67.

“It was a bit windy today, but not too bad, just one or two clubs. Growing up on the coast, I’ve played a lot of tournaments in these conditions. I tend to focus a bit better because you have to be a bit more specific, otherwise it’s so easy to make a mistake in the wind.

“But playing in the wind feels like a bit of an advantage for me, to be honest, and I have a lower ball-flight than most,” Bruiners said.

Apart from playing what he described as his “worst two rounds for the year” in the preceding pro-am event, Bruiners has felt that he has been playing good golf, but has committed the sin of not capitalising when it comes to his final score.

On Thursday he put that right with three birdies on his front nine as he went off on the 10th and then four more on his back nine, including three-in-a-row from the fourth.

“I’m very happy because in the last while, I’ve been playing really well but I just didn’t end off rounds the way I would like. I made a good birdie on 11 today, which is quite a tough hole, so it was nice to get off to a good start.

“The next few holes were also downwind and I was glad I capitalised because I was thinking the wind was going to pick up. I hit two very good shots for birdies on the first and fourth holes.

“Then there were more holes into the wind coming in, but I tried to be aggressive. Last week I was in contention in the SunBet Challenge Wild Coast, but I became a bit defensive down the stretch. So I tried to be a bit more positive today.

“It ended up being a really solid round, no drops because I made a really nice putt for par on the seventh. It’s the first time in a while I’ve sunk a putt like that, so it meant a lot.

“In fact this must be one of my most memorable rounds. I’ve played a few good rounds, but this one I’ll remember,” a delighted Bruiners said.

Strydom also started on the 10th and had a much slower start to his ascent up the leaderboard, being just one-under at the turn. The first three holes at St Francis Links are deceptive, but the 37-year-old birdied all three for a great start to his back nine. Strydom also picked up shots on the fifth, sixth and eighth holes for a top-class round of golf.

Bailey also made a leap up the leaderboard on the front nine, also collecting five birdies.


65 – Heinrich Bruiners

66 – Ockie Strydom

67 – Brooklin Bailey, Dylan Naidoo, Jaco Prinsloo

69 – Toto Thimba Jnr, Steve Surry, Dan Erickson, Luke Jerling, Lyle Rowe, Dean O’Riley, Peter Karmis, Hennie O’Kennedy, Doug McGuigan

70 – Kevin Rhoderick, Nikhil Rama, Keenan Davidse, Pieter Moolman, Hennie Otto, Matthew Spacey, Jake Redman, Jean Hugo, Adam Breen, Madalitso Muthiya

71 – Danie Van Niekerk, Estiaan Conradie, Sean Bradley, James Kamte, Ruan Korb, Dylan Mostert, Luca Filippi

72 – Aneurin Gounden, Bradley Bawden, Ryan Van Velzen, Jayden Schaper, Riekus Nortje, Wallie Coetsee, Brody Harbinson, Jacques P de Villiers, Wynand Dingle, Therion Nel

73 – MJ Viljoen, Rhys West, Kyle Barker, Christiaan Basson, JJ Senekal

74 – Stefan Wears-Taylor, Clancy Waugh, Louis Albertse, Makhetha Mazibuko, Sean Cronje

75 – Callum Mowat, Philip Geerts, Herman Loubser, Jacques Blaauw

76 – Dwayne Basson, Michael Kok, Maverick Faber, Mandla Dlamini Jnr, Shaahid Mahmed, Rupert Kaminski, Mark Williams, James Pennington

77 – Paul Boshoff, Jordan Duminy, Kyle McClatchie, Clinton Grobler, Jean-Paul Strydom

78 – Jacquin Hess, CJ du Plessis, Michael Palmer, Hayden Griffiths, Richard Joubert

79 – Fezekile Kana, Stephen Ferreira

80 – Joshua Seale

81 – Samuel Simpson, Alphius Kelapile

82 – Mark Maart, Chris Swanepoel

83 – Alex Haindl

86 – Tumelo Molloyi

88 – Gareth Sargent

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Master PGA Professional shares advice ahead of Vodacom Origins

CAPE ST FRANCIS, Eastern Cape – Golf in the sand dunes and bush of the St Francis Links can be a confusing experience for those who do not know one of South Africa’s top courses well and director of golf Jeff Clause, a Master PGA Professional, says the Vodacom Origins of Golf Sunshine Tour event that will start there on Thursday will be a test of temperament.

Being the fun-loving, entertaining character he is, Clause uses a song to describe how the professionals should approach the magnificent Jack Nicklaus designed course.

“It’s like the Kenny Rogers song The Gambler – ‘You’ve got to know when to hold them and know when to fold them’,” Clause says. “There are holes that demand much respect and others, if you’re with the wind, that you can attack.

“When you’re out there in the dunes, there’s more to the course than meets the eye. It can be visually distorting and often there is more room than what you see. I think this course really excels in some wind, but not necessarily the tough conditions we had on the first day of the pro-am.

“All links and coastal courses have wind as a factor in the design and we are generally an east-west course. There are three par-threes that go across north-south, and one par-four and one par-five, meaning there are 13 holes that will be either downwind or into the wind.

“The difference can be three clubs. But we’ve given golfers as much landing area as we can and the course is a lot more playable than when we opened in 2007. This will be our 12thVodacom Origins of Golf event and, in the first one, +9 made the cut, while 13-under was the winner last year,” Clause says.

“Our aim is to make it more than a putting contest. It takes more than that to win here. Why I love links golf is because it requires more shots. If you learn to play here, you can play anywhere.

“It’s more about shot-making, where you put the ball, where you leave it for the next shot. You can burn up every hole or you can blow it, so you need a strong mind around here.

“Steve Surry had a putt for 62 here last year in the PGA Championship, while on a bad day, pro golfers are tiptoeing around 90 here.

“Next year is the 100th anniversary of the PGA Championship, and our aim is to return that tournament to past glories.

“But we also love the Vodacom Origins of Golf series, we love working with them, I like the format which brings the amateurs in to enjoy our course. We have property owners here who have bought because of this tournament,” Clause says.

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28th September 2022

Naidoo chasing big dreams at St Francis

CAPE ST FRANCIS, Eastern Cape – As Dylan Naidoo chases a place on the DP World Tour through its Qualifying School at the end of this year, the overcast, drizzly and blustery conditions at St Francis Links for this week’s Vodacom Origins of Golf could serve as the perfect preparation for his big dreams.

The 24-year-old Naidoo was beaming after his day out in the strong winds and cold at the Vodacom Origins of Golf Pro-Am and is delighted to be back at one of his favourite courses.

“The last time I played here I was just 17 years old and it is such a phenomenal course. It tests every aspect of your game and I feel like I’m a very different player to when I was last here,” Naidoo said.

As one of the flagship players in the Sunshine Tour’s Papwa Sewgolum Class for development players, Naidoo’s game has indeed moved to a different level over the past few years. He secured playing privileges on the Korn Ferry Tour in the United States and is now chasing a place on the DP World Tour next season, having made it through to the Second Stage of the tour’s Qualifying School in November.

“I’ve been a transformation golfer for the last three years and, since the Papwa Sewgolum Class came into being in June, I have seen really nice growth in our group of golfers. It helps the guys realise that they are very good players, they deserve to be here, and it’s about giving them every opportunity to be successful.

“Starting out on tour can be financially very difficult, especially if you come from a disadvantaged background. Now there’s a system in place, with each of the golfers getting a bit of a stipend every month that will really help.

“The Vodacom Origins of Golf series is also a great part of this process. The series teaches you how to be a professional and it allows you to network with the amateurs. It basically teaches you how to go about your business on tour. It was a big help when I started out as a pro and it’s a big help still now.”

The Sunshine Tour’s Vodacom Origins of Golf Series is the longest running pro-am series on the local tour. It is now in its 18th season and has this year already travelled to De Zalze in the Western Cape, Highland Gate in Mpumalanga and San Lameer in KwaZulu-Natal. The Final of the five-tournament series will be played at Pinnacle Point at the end of October.

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27th September 2022

Golf development vital in enriching lives, not just in producing golfers

CAPE ST FRANCIS, Eastern Cape – The Eastern Cape – South Africa’s second-largest province – has numerous world-class golf courses and a great passion for the game. But there are many people who love the game and could contribute greatly to the entire golfing ecosystem, but who need greater support and access to the sport.

The South African Golf Development Board facilitates practice and playing opportunities for learners and talented players from underprivileged communities. The Vodacom Origins of Golf series plays an important role in the work of the SAGDB by setting up clinics with the professionals playing in their events. Tuesday saw 18 children from the Humansdorp, Arcadia, Asbekkies and Sea Vista areas being exposed to golf coaching at the St Francis Links, where the latest Pro-Am in the series is being played.

Frans de Kock is the regional manager of the SAGDB for the Eastern Province and has been involved in golf development since 2007. He coached his own son, Allister de Kock, to Sunshine Tour professional level, and now he is ploughing that knowledge and passion back into the community.

“I’ve always loved golf since I grew up near the Wedgewood Golf Course in PE, I used to caddy and fell in love with the game from Day One,” De Kock senior says.

“After getting my son Allister to the level he’s at, I know what’s needed for youngsters to succeed and those methods will also work with these kids.

“I go to townships schools and we’re mostly introducing golf to these children. The challenges are that some think it’s an easy game and then drop off when they discover it’s not, but mostly we have social issues to contend with. I always say the kids are here to learn to play golf, but they must first learn all their schoolwork. They need to learn to be self-supporting.

“We have 146 youngsters in all in our programme and it’s always a challenge getting them on to golf courses. But Vodacom always provides us with good opportunities and I’m sure something good will come out of today’s clinic as well,” De Kock says.

Some of the local talent that might have been missed but has been nurtured by the SAGDB includes Johndre Ludick, who has just represented GolfRSA in the Italian U16 Championship and Devon Valentine, a member of the SAGDB national squad.

But the importance golf plays in shaping the careers of people off the course as well should not be overlooked.

St Francis Links PGA pros Christo Kugel and Norman Riley speak fondly of how their regular community development work is an avenue to enrich lives and not just produce golfers. The proof of that is the youngster who was introduced to golf and ended up becoming a firefighter, or even Clyde Loggenberg, the club barman.

He was employed as a ball-spotter in the PGA Championship last year at St Francis Links, fell in love with the game and impressed everyone at the club so much that he is now working there full-time.

“I never looked at golf before that, I was more a rugby and soccer guy, but my love for golf has just grown. I meet so many golfers and learn from them, and now and then I can borrow clubs and actually get out and play.

“I used to work on the cruise ships in Europe, but this opportunity is one of the best things to ever happen to me, at one of the best golf clubs in the country,” the father of two from Humansdorp says.

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26th September 2022

Sunshine Tour announces strong finish to 2022

The Sunshine Tour has announced a strong summer schedule that includes the return of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, Alfred Dunhill Championship and the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open following their Covid-enforced breaks.

The last two months of 2022 will feature a host of tournaments co-sanctioned with the DP World Tour and with South Africa’s leading professionals in action, including those who have competed on the LIV Golf series.

November will tee off with the South African PGA Championship at St Francis Links, followed by the 40th anniversary of the iconic Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City. The new Gary and Vivienne Player Invitational will also be played at Sun City in November, in honour of the late Vivienne Player. The Joburg Open takes place at the end of November at the new host venue of Houghton Golf Club, and teeing off a strong run of four DP World Tour co-sanctioned events.

December will see a new era unfold in the second oldest national Open in golf with the Investec South African Open, and to be played at the Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate.

The Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek returns to the schedule after its cancellation last year due to the Covid-19 travel restrictions imposed upon South Africa.

The AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open also makes its return to the schedule for the first time since 2019, with Mauritius now fully open to international golf again. This year’s tournament will be played at the new venue of Mont Choisy Le Golf.

“We’re looking forward to an incredibly exciting end-of-year run of tournaments on the Sunshine Tour,” said Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour.

“The last few years have been a tremendous challenge as we’ve negotiated all the obstacles around Covid-19. I am proud to say that as a Tour we have successfully negotiated probably the most challenging time in our history. We’ve increased our schedule and provided even more opportunities and value for our members. The main reason we’ve been able to do so is because of the loyalty of our sponsors, who have been unwavering in their support of us.

“We now look to our biggest tournaments and the privilege of being able to play these under ‘normal’ circumstances again with capacity crowds, and to welcome back our leading golfers from their international commitments as we celebrate a full schedule of world-class international golf on our Tour.”



3-6 November: South African PGA Championship, St Francis Links

10-13 November: Nedbank Golf Challenge, Gary Player Country Club Sun City

19-20 November: Gary and Vivienne Player Invitational, Lost City Golf Course Sun City

24-27 November: Joburg Open, Houghton Golf Club


1-4 December: Investec South African Open, Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate

8-11 December: Alfred Dunhill Championship, Leopard Creek Country Club

15-18 December: AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, Mont Choisy Le Golf


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23rd September 2022

Viljoen the victor at SunBet Challenge

PORT EDWARD, KwaZulu-Natal – MJ Viljoen has been through the terrible tantalisation of not winning for five years on the Sunshine Tour but feeling very close to it, so when he finally returned to the winner’s podium at the SunBet Challenge hosted by the Wild Coast Sun on Friday, he was a little lost for words.

Viljoen, who led by one stroke going into the final round at the Wild Coast Country Club, played the steadiest of golf to seal the deal on Friday, shooting a two-under-par 68 to win by three strokes, even with a bogey at the last.

His last victory came at the Sun Fish River Challenge on September 6, 2017, but he has certainly had some near misses since then, with six top-five finishes, including being runner-up twice. Last week he began working with a new coach in Dougie Wood.

“It’s been a long time and I’ve just been so focused on winning again that I now don’t really know what it means,” Viljoen said after his triumph. “But I’m going to enjoy it and embrace it and take the weekend to think about it.

“I’ve been struggling for a long time, but I kept feeling that I was so close. I made some changes in the last week and they just sparked the feeling on the course that I have been looking for for so long.

“It sounds almost magical and I think it is quite magical. It feels like the start of a new chapter,” Viljoen said.

The 27-year-old had his game-plan in place from the start of the round, wanting to start well and not have to push too hard on a challenging course. Birdies on the second and third holes were like popping to the shops down the road and getting all the groceries you need.

“When I saw what the wind direction was going to be today, I thought two and three would be ideal birdie opportunities. I managed to get those birdies and then I was able to play par golf all day after that.

“It just set me up perfectly for my game-plan. I was never in trouble, I didn’t really hit a bad shot. I kept it simple and kept my targets big.

“Even though it was tough on the back nine, it came easy for me and I was able to par seven of the holes and birdie the par-five 16th. On the 18thI was happy to do nothing fancy, take bogey and get out of there,” Viljoen said.

Portugal’s Stephen Ferreira tried valiantly to grab the win as he fired a 64 that saw him finish tied second on 10-under-par, three behind Viljoen, alongside Pieter Moolman (67).


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New home for 2022 Joburg Open

The Joburg Open will celebrate its 15th anniversary with a new host course in Houghton Golf Club when it is played here from November 24-27, 2022, as the City continues to use this major sports event to showcase its diversity to a worldwide audience.

“When we launched the Joburg Open it was with the specific intent that this must be a tournament that provides a sense of inclusivity for all of the City’s residents, while at the same time showing all elements of our world-class African City to an international audience,” said Executive Mayor, Mpho Phalatse.

“The aspirational effect of the Joburg Open is incredibly important to us and therefore we take very seriously its ability to travel to the leading golf courses in Johannesburg and expose all of our residents to the wonders of this international event.”

Houghton Golf Club’s hosting of the Joburg Open adds to this golf course’s proud history as a home to major DP World Tour and Sunshine Tour events.

Houghton Golf Club has hosted the prestigious South African Open eight times as well as a multiple of other professional tournaments.

“We are delighted to welcome the Joburg Open as well as the DP World Tour and Sunshine Tour to our historic club. Houghton is a proud member of the Johannesburg golf community and we are honoured to reflect this by hosting one of the City’s premier sports events and a major international golf tournament,” said Rodney Rottanburg, President of Houghton Golf Club.

The Joburg Open has played a key role in the development of many of South Africa’s leading professionals.

Thriston Lawrence claimed his maiden DP World Tour victory in the 2021 Joburg Open, which was also the first tournament of the new DP World Tour era and which had the eyes of world golf on South Africa for this historic moment. Lawrence took the confidence from this victory and won his second DP World Tour title in the Omega European Masters this year while also playing in his first Major in The Open Championship in St Andrews.

“We are extremely proud of the Joburg Open’s status as a tournament of opportunity. Whether it was Thriston Lawrence with his latest achievement, the many development golfers who’ve received invitations to play in our field and be exposed to competitive golf at the highest level, the golf clinics we host at every tournament for aspiring young golfers, or the fact that in 2021 we also launched the Joburg Ladies Open as a co-sanctioned tournament between the Sunshine Ladies Tour and Ladies European Tour – all of this represents the opportunities this tournament provides,” said Bongi Mokaba, Director of Events: City of Joburg.

Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine tour, said: “The City of Johannesburg has been a proud and loyal partner of the Sunshine Tour, and the Joburg Open has provided our members with incredible opportunities. We’ve had seven different South African winners of the past 15 Joburg Opens which in itself bears testament to our Sunshine Tour slogan that ‘Greatness Begins Here’ and the Joburg Open’s role in supporting this.”

Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the DP World Tour, said: “The City of Johannesburg remains an important destination on our International Schedule, and the Joburg Open has always been a key event in our longstanding relationship with the Sunshine Tour. We look forward to a new era of this partnership at Houghton Golf Club.”

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22nd September 2022

Confident Viljoen leading the pack at SunBet Challenge

PORT EDWARD, KwaZulu-Natal – A change of coach for MJ Viljoen obviously brought dividends on Thursday as the 27-year-old surged to the top of the leaderboard in the SunBet Challenge hosted by Wild Coast Sun, shooting a six-under-par 64 to go into the final round with a one-stroke lead at the Wild Coast Country Club.

Viljoen started his second round on the 10th hole and blazed his way to the turn in just 29 strokes, collecting six birdies, including three in a row from the 16th. Although the strengthening of the wind meant his score of six-under stayed where it was on his inward nine due to one bogey, on the par-three sixth, being cancelled out by a birdie on the par-five seventh, the Serengeti Golf Estate representative had still done enough to hold off the challenge of Keenan Davidse.

Viljoen is on 11-under-par for the tournament, while Davidse had a more up-and-down day, with five birdies, three bogies and an eagle on the par-five 16th, leaving with him an excellent 66 that lifted him to 10-under overall.

“I was solid all day and I didn’t make mistakes. But I enjoyed my front nine a lot today, I was just hitting the ball so nicely and I felt in such control of things,” Viljoen said.

“And then I got a bit excited and the wind got up on my back nine and put me on the back foot a bit.

“But I’ve been struggling for a couple of years now and I just had to make a change last week because I was putting myself under so much pressure. So I worked with a different coach in Dougie Wood, just for a different perspective.

“The change obviously paid off today so I will stick with it. How I felt on the golf course was more favourable,” Viljoen said.

Viljoen, who won his only Sunshine Tour title at the Sun Fish River Challenge in 2017, said his approach in Friday’s final round will be to try and replicate his outstanding form on holes 10 to 18 on Thursday.

“I was just focused on not making any mistakes, I hit the ball good and my putting and chipping were good too. So I will go out in the final round and try do what I did on the first two days.

“The big thing is I’m not worried about the outcome because I know I’ve improved, I’ve got something out of the last couple of weeks, and that’s more than enough for me. That gives me a head start, I reckon,” Viljoen said.

Apart from Davidse, Martin Vorster and Jaco Ahlers are also chasing hard on nine-under-par after they both shot 65s on Thursday, and Madalitso Muthiya (68), Heinrich Bruiners (67), Casey Jarvis (66) and Christiaan Burke (65) are just three strokes back on eight-under.

Overnight leader Jacques Blaauw had a tough time on Thursday and just could not get going, 16 pars and two bogies leaving him with a 72 that saw him slip down to six-under-par and a tie for 13th.