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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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29th August 2022

Another milestone weekend for SA golfers

South African professional golf enjoyed one of its most successful weekends in history with multiple triumphs around the world.

On the DP World Tour, Thriston Lawrence claimed his second win this season when he beat Matt Wallace in playoff for the Omega European Masters. The win moved Lawrence into the top 10 on the DP World Tour Rankings and into the top 100 on the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career.

“It’s a privilege to be able to take this victory. There’s so much history around this event, all the past champions. It’s a dream come true (moving into the top 100 on the Official World Golf Ranking). Growing up, you always want to be in the top 100 in the world and to achieve it is quite emotional,” Lawrence told the DP World Tour media.

On the Legends Tour, veteran Sunshine Tour professional Adilson da Silva claimed his maiden victory in the Staysure PGA Seniors Championship.

“To be very honest about it, me and my wife we sat down a couple of months ago…we were considering opening a driving range and that’s how things were going. We had some tough times and I’m glad that we hung in there and she gave me quite a lot of support to try the Legends Tour and hang in there, so I was very fortunate,” Da Silva told the Legends Tour media.

On the LPGA Tour, Paula Reto broke through with her first victory in the CP Women’s Open. “I’m really so excited. I know I’m going to celebrate and everything will kick in, but I’m really happy and it’s been such a long time. I was like, I hope one day I’ll win. But it came true,” Reto told the LPGA Tour media.

“Ashleigh (Buahi) was such an inspiration, especially being the AIG Women’s Open champion. She was so calm and so great on those playoff holes. I told myself, you know what? I can also do it. I also want to do it. Being able to win on the LPGA is such a dream, and even being from South Africa.”

Dean Burmester capped a memorable weekend by securing his PGA TOUR card for the next season.

“Boom! I love it. I’ve got goosebumps,” a delighted Burmester told the media. “It’s been a long road. Now I’ve got goosebumps of where I’m heading to – the number one tour in the world and the best job in the world. I’m just excited.” – Michael Vlismas

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Lawrence is King of the Mountains in Switzerland

Thriston Lawrence claimed his second DP World Tour title of the season after beating Matt Wallace in a tense play-off to win the 2022 Omega European Masters.

The South African began the day with a three-shot lead but was caught at the summit at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club by a charging Wallace after 16 holes on Sunday.

With both players parring the 17th and 18th to finish on 18 under par, a play-off was required to decide the winner.

And with Wallace unable to save par at the first extra hole, a four was good enough to hand Lawrence victory on his maiden visit to Crans Montana, sparking jubilant scenes on the 18th green.

Lawrence, who was the first winner of the DP World Tour era at the Joburg Open in November after that event was reduced to 36 holes, moves up to ninth on the DP World Tour Rankings.

The 25-year-old made four birdies, a double bogey and a bogey on Sunday to sign for a closing 69.

Wallace, meanwhile, posted a bogey-free 66 to finish two shots ahead of fellow Englishman Richard Mansell in third.

Lawrence began the day on 17 under and picked up an early birdie after holing from 32 feet at the third.

He surrendered a costly double bogey at the fifth after getting into tree trouble off the tee, reducing his lead to one.

A bounce-back gain at the sixth was followed by a stunning hole-out birdie from a tricky spot in the rough around the ninth green, keeping Lawrence one clear at the turn.

Lawrence’s 21-foot birdie attempt at the tenth caught the right edge of the hole but did not drop.

He drained his birdie putt from a similar distance at the 12th, though, to give himself a two-shot cushion.

Lawrence got a big slice of luck at the 14th after catching a branch with his second shot but had to settle for a par there after his ten-foot birdie putt just missed.

Playing partner Wallace made a birdie at the same hole to cut the gap at the top to one shot.

And when Lawrence dropped a shot at the 16th, he had Wallace for company at the summit.

A two-shot swing looked possible at the 17th as Lawrence played a sensational bunker shot to set up a birdie chance, while Wallace had to make a good up-and-down to save par.

But with both players making fours there, they were tied heading down the last, where they each made par to take it to extra holes.

Wallace’s approach found the very back of the green and he could not get down in two, meaning Lawrence’s par was enough to earn the trophy.

Lawrence was thrilled to enter the winner’s circle at the 50th staging of the Omega European Masters on the DP World Tour.

He said: “It’s a privilege to be able to take this victory. There’s so much history around this event, all the past champions, so I can’t wait to get my hands on that trophy. It’s a tricky golf course, you can lose a few shots, especially around the 14th, 15th, par fives – you can make a silly mistake and another guy can make birdies. But I’m just happy with my patience this week and I’m just so pleased to be able to win this week.”

Speaking about moving into the top 100 on the Official World Golf Ranking, Lawrence added: “It’s a dream come true. Growing up, you always want to be in the top 100 in the world and to achieve it is quite emotional.” – DP World Tour

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27th August 2022

Relief as Michael makes his breakthrough in Vodacom Origins

DULLSTROOM, Mpumalanga – After 12 years on tour and more than his fair share of close calls, heartache and injuries, Anthony Michael finally claimed his first victory on the Sunshine Tour in the Vodacom Origins of Golf at Highland Gate Golf and Trout Estate on Saturday.

Michael signed for a final round of 69 to win on 10 under par, one shot clear of Herman Loubser and Wynand Dingle. Dingle had a four-foot putt on the last to force a playoff with Michael but missed.

“I’m over the moon. After so many years and so many runner-up finishes, I felt like I wasn’t carrying just a monkey on my back anymore. It felt like a gorilla,” said a relieved Michael.

Even as he stood on the 18th green with Dingle about to putt, Michael was steeling himself for another missed opportunity. “I’ve been in that position so many times where I’ve missed a putt and given away the tournament. So I was preparing myself for the playoff. When Wynand missed there was just massive relief.”

The victory comes after a tough period in which Michael has battled his way through a painful elbow injury and the recovery process.

“I was playing through the pain up to the point where I could barely hold a golf club anymore. I went for treatment and it put me out for four months. It was a tough time because this is how I earn a living, so it put a lot of pressure on me. I’m also getting married in two months’ time, so there were those financial considerations as well. But my sponsor Betway has been unbelievable in their support of me.

“I’m just so relieved. I’ve seen all my friends on the Sunshine Tour win, and after 12 years of being on tour you wonder if it will ever happen.” – Michael Vlismas

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26th August 2022

Musician Dingle hoping for a hit with Vodacom Origins win

DULLSTROOM, Mpumalanga – Wynand Dingle, a man with a talent for playing a guitar and golf equally well, is hunting his maiden Sunshine Tour victory as he heads into Saturday’s final round tied for the lead with Combrinck Smit and Anthony Michael at the Highland Gate Golf and Trout Estate.

Dingle singed for a 69 at Highland Gate on Friday to climb to seven under par, joining overnight leader Smit (70) and Michael (69) in a share of the lead.

They are two strokes clear of the group of Jaco Prinsloo, Jacques Blaauw, James Hart du Preez and Brooklin Bailey.

Jean Hugo, a record 11-time champion on the Vodacom Origins of Golf series, is just three strokes off the lead. He’s joined there by Herman Loubser, who scored a hole-in-one during his 69 on Friday.

Of the three leaders, Dingle is an intriguing prospect going into the final round. He is tantalisingly close to a breakthrough win on the Sunshine Tour. Her challenged for the FBC Zim Open in May before a triple bogey on the 17th saw him finish ninth. Then he finished tied third in the FNB eSwatini Nkonyeni Challenge in July to further fuel his belief that a win is close.

“I’ve been playing well for quite some time but haven’t managed to put it together in tournament golf. I play a lot of social golf with my friends on the Sunshine Tour who have won and they often tell me it’s a mystery that I haven’t been able to take that form into tournament golf. So I’m really pleased to be in this position. I haven’t won yet on the Sunshine Tour and that’s the goal for me,” Dingle said.

“Highland Gate is not an easy course, and the wind really got up on Friday so it was challenging but I managed to hang in there. But what a golf course this is. It’s a special place.” – Michael Vlismas


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Vodacom helps young golfers take a swing at their dreams

DULLSTROOM, Mpumalanga – A golf club can be a gateway to dreams, and that’s the clear message the young golfers from the South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB) were given as they took part in a development clinic with Sunshine Tour professionals at this week’s Vodacom Origins of Golf tournament at the Highland Gate Golf and Trout Estate.

It’s a message wholly endorsed by Dr Ntombi Mhangwani, the Executive Head of Department for Vodacom Business Marketing, who was there to support the 18 young golfers from the SAGDB who form part of a partnership with the Vodacom Origins of Golf series that stretches back decades in terms of its support of golf development.

“In a country like South Africa, with the levels of inequality we have, certain life experiences like golf courses are natural for some but for others it is completely foreign. If we want to nullify these inequalities then we have to reach the disadvantaged areas as well,” Mhangwani said as the young golfers, between the ages of seven and 16, from the Nelspruit, Lydenburg and Dullstroom districts were happily hitting balls on the Highland Gate driving range under the watchful eye of the Sunshine Tour professionals giving of their time to provide some coaching.

“These learners will paint their picture of life out of what they believe is possible, and this is how we can build dreams by showing them as we make golf more accessible to young people who otherwise wouldn’t have this opportunity.

“When Vodacom says it wants to inspire change by going Further Together, we mean we want to develop together. So that means building and giving back to the communities that are our consumer base.

“The only way to do that is by working in partnerships with the communities and giving their children exposure. It’s not about throwing money at the problem, but about authentic partnerships,” Mhangwani said.

Vodacom’s involvement in golf goes way beyond just its support of the professionals on the Sunshine Tour – the Vodacom Origins of Golf series is the longest-running pro-am series on the Sunshine Tour. Closely aligned to its sponsorship of this series is the golf development aspect that underpins every single tournament wherever it is played in South Africa.

Partnering with the SAGDB to show the younger generation that golf can be a pathway to success is one of Vodacom’s key vehicles for change, and the purpose and life skills golf can give to learners is something Mhangwani loves about the game.

“Golf is about a value system, training and discipline, and that can permeate into these youngsters’ schooling, their lives at home and choosing the right friends. Champions are also born out of watching other champions practice, and passing on their knowledge and skills. Exposure builds potential, and it allows these learners to dream.

“If even one person at these golf clinics looks at the game and says that they want to be part of golf, they want to do that too, then we have succeeded in giving somebody an opportunity,” she said.