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13th April 2024

Broomhead chasing maiden Sunshine Tour title

KEMPTON PARK, Ekurhuleni – Sunshine Tour rookie Jonno Broomhead will take a one-stroke lead into Sunday’s final round of the Tour Championship delivered by The Courier Guy at Serengeti Estates as he chases a maiden win in the season-ending tournament.

Broomhead signed for a third round of 67 to lead this exclusive field drawn from the top 50 on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit delivered by The Courier Guy on 13 under par, with Kyle Barker his nearest challenger on 12 under par following a 69.

It’s another realistic shot at a maiden Sunshine Tour victory for KwaZulu-Natal professional Broomhead, who came close when he was in the running for the Gary and Vivienne Player Challenge last year before finishing 12th there. This season he’s also had top finishes of sixth in the Blue Label Challenge and tied eighth in the SunBet Challenge Sun Sibaya tournament.

“It was good today,” said Broomhead of a third round that started with three birdies and an eagle in his first five holes. “I made a couple of drops on the way but generally kept it very steady and played where I needed to and finished quite nicely.”

It’s been a solid rookie season thus far for Broomhead and one which he now hopes will culminate in a title on Sunday.

“It’s been great. I think the switch from amateur golf to professional golf was a lot bigger than I thought. But I’ve had a fairly decent season and I’ve enjoyed it.”

Just one shot behind him, Barker is equally looking forward to signing off a season in which he claimed his second Sunshine Tour title and played in his first Major in The Open on a high at Serengeti on Sunday.

But he was also full of praise for Broomhead’s performance.

“Well done to Jonno. He’s played great the last three days. To get to 13 under on this golf course in three days is pretty tough so that’s great golf.

“As for my own game, I’m driving the ball well and committing nicely to the shots. I’m feeling really good. I’ll just keep it the same in the final round. I’ll keep hitting drivers and hope to make the putts. I like the challenge of looking at the leaderboard during a final round, so it will be great fun.”

The third round also featured the culmination of the Bain’s Whisky Par-3 Shootout.

The Shootout saw all the professionals who have made holes-in-one on the Sunshine Tour this season coming together on the par-three ninth hole at Serengeti to challenge for the title of overall champion.

Jacques Blaauw claimed the overall title as the player nearest to the pin, winning himself R70 000 as well as a bottle of 21-year-old Bain’s Whisky.

“The Shootout was a lot of fun. There were definitely a lot more players who made holes-in-one on the Sunshine Tour this season than last season, which is great,” he said. – Michael Vlismas.

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12th April 2024

Barker looking to end Sunshine Tour season on a high

KEMPTON PARK, Ekurhuleni – It’s already been a watershed season for Kyle Barker, and it’s one he’s hoping to end on a high as he takes a one-stroke lead into the weekend of the season-ending Tour Championship delivered by The Courier Guy at Serengeti Estates.

Barker produced the joint low round of the day in this exclusive 43-man field on Friday – a seven-under-par 65 – to lead the field on nine under par overall. Only Stefan Wears-Taylor matched his 65 on Friday, but he heads into the weekend on one over par.

After breaking through with his maiden Sunshine Tour title in the Stella Artois Players Championship early in 2023, Barker went into the new season full of confidence and claimed his second title in the Vodacom Origins of Golf Western Cape.

He came into this week at Serengeti ranked 15th on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit delivered by The Courier Guy, the highest ranking of his career.

It’s been a confident season for Barker including four top-10s and one where he played in his first Major championship in last year Open at Hoylake.

Just one shot behind him, it’s been an equally memorable season for Broomhead.

The KwaZulu-Natal professional is challenging for a maiden title in his rookie season on the Sunshine Tour and started the season with an eight-place finish in the FBC Zimbabwe Open. He’s had a further five top-10s and came close to victory when he led the Gary and Vivienne Player Challenge before finishing 12th there.

Broomhead is currently third on the Fortress Rookie of the Season standings, with Robin Williams heading the way there.

In joint third place on six under is the experienced group of Darren Fichardt, who is looking to become the first double winner of the Tour Championship following his victory in 2018, Rupert Kaminski, Neil Schietekat and Wilco Nienaber.

Casey Jarvis, who finished second last year, could also still have a say on the weekend at just four shots off the lead. – Michael Vlismas.

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11th April 2024

Nienaber leads as Blaauw chases at Serengeti

KEMPTON PARK, Ekurhuleni – Wilco Nienaber has made another strong push for a second Sunshine Tour title after opening with a five-under-par 67 to lead the first round of the season-ending Tour Championship delivered by The Courier Guy on Thursday.

Nienaber made the best possible start as he birdied his opening three holes at Serengeti Estates and ended the day with a one-stroke lead over the in-form Jacques Blaauw and Luca Filippi.

Nienaber shared the first-round lead in last week’s Limpopo Championship before finishing tied 13th, and a seventh-place finish in February’s SDC Open suggests he’s moving closer to adding to his 2021 victory in the Dimension Data Pro-Am.

Similarly, Blaauw is playing some of the most consistent golf of his career as he finds himself challenging for the second week in succession on the Sunshine Tour.

He led through three rounds of the Limpopo Championship before finishing second, and is delighted to have another shot at a title this week.

“Last week was fun. It wasn’t the result I wanted but I’m playing good golf and it feels like I’m close,” said Blaauw.

“I haven’t had the best results the last three years but I haven’t stopped working hard. I’ve made a few subtle swing changes as well. It’s good to see it paying off. It was great to be in the hunt last week and I want to keep on going.”

The Serengeti course was playing long with the amount of rain it’s taken on over the past few days.

“It is playing long, but it’s in great condition. The greens are running beautifully and there wasn’t much wind as well because it can blow here,” said Blaauw.

Ryan van Velzen, who currently leads the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit delivered by The Courier Guy, opened with a level-par 72. And Robin Williams, who leads the Fortress Rookie of the Year standings, signed for a two-under-par 70. – Michael Vlismas.

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10th April 2024

Sunshine Tour stars gather at Serengeti for season finale

KEMPTON PARK, Ekurhuleni – Another stellar Sunshine Tour season will end on a high this week with the exclusive R2 million Tour Championship delivered by The Courier Guy at Serengeti Estates featuring the stars of the 2023-24 season.

The top 50 available professionals on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit delivered by The Courier Guy have qualified for this 72-hole tournament with no halfway cut, which tees off on Thursday.

The event is just reward for the professionals’ consistency throughout one of the most successful Sunshine Tour seasons in history with a number of new young stars emerging and the overall increase in events and prize money on the Tour.

Ryan van Velzen leads the field as the number-one ranked player on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit delivered by The Courier Guy following a breakthrough season in which he won three times and where he is now seeking to secure the overall Order of Merit title which would put him in an exclusive group in South African golf from Gary Player to Ernie Els to more recently Christiaan Bezuidenhout.

A further incentive is that the top three professionals at the end of the season will receive an added bonus, with R500 000 going to the first-placed finisher followed by R200 000 for second and R100 000 for third place. This will be on top of their season’s earnings.

In second place behind Van Velzen, Robin Williams is challenging for his own honours this week as he seeks to claim the Fortress Rookie of the Year Award and with it a R200 000 bonus. Williams announced himself as a new star in the South African game this season as he claimed a maiden Sunshine Tour title in his rookie season and lost a playoff for a DP World Tour co-sanctioned title in the SDC Championship as well as finishing third in a European Challenge Tour co-sanctioned event in the Dimension Data Pro-Am.

The field this week also includes defending champion Jaco Ahlers as well as rising young star Casey Jarvis, who finished second last year, Nikhil Rama, who came close to winning the Joburg Open before finishing sixth, and 2018 champion Darren Fichardt. – Michael Vlismas.

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7th April 2024

Germishuys wins Limpopo Championship

MOOKGOPHONG, Limpopo – Deon Germishuys claimed his second Sunshine Tour title when he won the Limpopo Championship by two strokes at the Euphoria Golf and Lifestyle Estate on Sunday.

Germishuys signed for a final round of 66 to win on 22 under par and add to his victory in the 2022 Sishen Classic.

Jacques Blaauw, who led by one stroke over Germishuys going into the final round, finished second on 20 under par with a closing 69.

Jacques Kruyswijk (66) and Dylan Mostert (66) shared third place on 17 under par.

“I don’t know where to start,” said a relieved Germishuys. “Jacques played great golf for the first three days and even today in the final round.”

Blaauw started well with a birdie at the first while Germishuys made a bogey as early as the second hole. But as the putts dried up for Blaauw thereafter, Germishuys found his form on the greens. He birdied the third and then made his charge with four straight birdies from the sixth hole.

“I thought I had Jacques after nine holes after I made four birdies in a row, but he just didn’t back off,” said Germishuys.

Blaauw made four birdies on the back nine, but also two bogeys. Kruyswijk came with his own charge of five birdies in six holes from the ninth. But Germishuys made two birdies of his own on the back nine that proved enough to secure him the victory.

“I feel like the gameplan that my caddie and I worked out this week really helped. We just tried to hit as many shots to the middle of the green and make some putts, and obviously I put a new putter in the bag this week. It was a new feeling for me but it worked out well.

“As we walked up the 18th I said to my caddie that it was basically perfect all day except for the one shot on the 12th. The whole week I wasn’t hitting my irons close enough but I found something on the practice range this morning and it was perfect. It was really perfect the whole day around.”

The Sunshine Tour completes its season with this week’s Tour Championship delivered by The Courier Guy at Serengeti Estates, where the top 50 available professionals on the Order of Merit delivered by The Courier Guy will battle it out for glory. – Michael Vlismas.

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6th April 2024

Putting tip earns Blaauw Limpopo Championship lead

MOOKGOPHONG, Limpopo – Jacques Blaauw decided to take a more aggressive approach to his putting and the result is a chance to claim his first Sunshine Tour title since 2016 when the final round of the Limpopo Championship tees off at the Euphoria Golf and Lifestyle Estate on Sunday.

Blaauw produced a composed third round of 67 underpinned by some impressive putting to lead the field on 17 under par. He is one stroke clear of Deon Germishuys, who signed for a third round of 68.

Dylan Naidoo produced the low round of the day – a 64 that carried him into third place on 14 under par.

Blaauw’s round was highlighted by a string of good putts from the ninth to the 12th holes where he made three birdies and an eagle.

“I putted unbelievably well,” said Blaauw. “I played with Ulrich van den Berg in the practice round and he said to me, no disrespect but you’re putting too tentatively. All my putts now are going in with speed. So it’s just a bit of speed now, and obviously moving down to the short putter makes it a little bit more free flowing for me.”

It also helped that the greens at Euphoria have rewarded good putting this week. “The greens have been really good. They’ve been very pure,” said Naidoo at just three shots off the lead and who got the most out of them on Saturday with his low round.

Blaauw has won four times on the Sunshine Tour, with his most prolific year coming when he claimed three titles in 2013. His last victory was in the Vodacom Origins of Golf in Sishen in 2016. But he has since finished second numerous times and he came into this week’s tournament having finished sixth in the recent Stella Artois Players Championship.

“It’s just keeping on the constant grind and I know I’ll keep on battling in the final round,” he said.

And he’ll at least be able to keep an eye on the preparations of his final-round playing partner, Germishuys, with the two of them staying together this week.

“Deon and I are staying in the same house. So it will be a relaxed evening around the braai before the final round.” – Michael Vlismas.

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5th April 2024

Lombard leads in Limpopo

MOOKGOPHONG, Limpopo – The walk from the 18th green to the first tee box at the Euphoria Golf and Lifestyle Estate proved to be exactly the reset Zander Lombard needed as he found his rhythm to shoot a 64 and lead the Limpopo Championship by one shot going into the weekend.

The DP World Tour campaigner heads the field on 13 under par with Jacques Blaauw (65) and Deon Germishuys (66) his nearest challengers on 12 under par.

Lombard teed off Friday’s second round on the 10th and said he struggled to feel comfortable as he turned in two under for the round.

“It was a tale of two nines. I fought my swing a bit on the back nine but still managed that nine well. Luckily there’s a long walk from the 18th to the first and when I got to the first I flushed a three wood down the middle and found my swing again. Then the rest just happened on its own,” Lombard said of a second nine of 30 featuring six birdies that positioned him perfectly for the weekend.

His love of both this Annika Sorenstam-designed golf course and the bushveld has Lombard relishing the challenge of the next 36 holes.

“I think it’s a great design from Annika Sorenstam. You hit every single club in your bag and you can’t just overpower it off the tee. You’re forced to hit to the right areas which I enjoy. I really like that kind of golf. But when you do take risks you get rewarded. I think it’s a great test. And then to combine that with some droëwors and a braai in the bushveld, it makes the week feel like home.”

The phenomenal consistency Lombard has shown on the DP World Tour and his experience will be a key factor on the weekend, but he’s certainly not taking anything for granted at a time when he believes world golf is extremely competitive.

“I think the level golf on all the tours has improved. The depth is incredible. When I turned professional 11 years ago a lot of cuts on the DP World Tour and Sunshine Tour were made on two over par, level par or one under par. Now the depth has changed dramatically. If you make the cut you’re still in with a chance on the weekend. It just shows the improvement and I think the game is in a really good space.” – Michael Vlismas.

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4th April 2024

Nienaber in four-way tie for Limpopo Championship lead

MOOKGOPHONG, Limpopo – The intense competitiveness of the Sunshine Tour shone through again on Thursday as the first round of the Limpopo Championship ended in a four-way tie for the lead at the Euphoria Golf and Lifestyle Estate.

Wilco Nienaber, Michael Hollick, Deon Germishuys and Ethan Smith all opened with rounds of six-under-par 66 to share the lead in this bushveld retreat.

And just one shot behind them the quality continues with Zander Lombard and multiple Sunshine Tour winner Jean Hugo in a group of players on five under, while Luca Filippi – who finished second here last year – is just two shots off the lead.

There were even two holes-in-one in Thursday’s first round from Erhard Lambrechts on the par-three 17th and Karabo Mokoena on the par-three eighth.

“The quality of golf on the Sunshine Tour is really strong, so my approach in a first round is to just try and not play yourself out of it,” said Nienaber.

The lanky young professional returned from a short break and posted a bogey-free opening round in a tournament where he finished second in 2020.

“Six under is always a nice score on any golf course, and to come back after a break and shoot a bogey-free round is always good,” said Nienaber.

“Today was really good and very solid, and pretty straightforward. The greens were pretty slow so that was tricky, but I managed well. My length off the tee does help here, but not always. There are some holes, like the par-five 18th for instance, where you are restricted on how far you can hit it.

“But I have good memories here. I came here for the first time in 2020 and my dad caddied for me that week. This week I’m really trying to be happy on the golf course and realise that there are things that are going to happen during a round that aren’t within my control. So hopefully it will be more of the same over the next three rounds.”

Alongside him, Hollick is an obvious threat on the title as well. The KwaZulu-Natal professional has been playing impressive golf of late and comes into this tournament having finished second in the Stella Artois Players Championship in late March. – Michael Vlismas.

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28th March 2024

Defending champion Van Velzen joins strong field for Limpopo Championship

Ryan van Velzen returns to next week’s Limpopo Championship as the defending champion in a tournament that dramatically changed the course of his career.

Van Velzen made his Sunshine Tour breakthrough with victory in this R2 million tournament at the Euphoria Golf and Lifestyle Estate last year.

It was a victory that launched the career of one of the most exciting young players on the Sunshine Tour as Van Velzen has gone on to win again on the Tour in the Bain’s Whisky Teams Challenge and the Mediclinic Invitational, and also challenge in several tournaments co-sanctioned with the DP World Tour and European Challenge Tour.

He returns to Limpopo for the 4-7 April event as the current leader on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit delivered by The Courier Guy.

The list of entries for this year’s event is one of the strongest in the tournament’s history.

It includes multiple DP World Tour winner Thriston Lawrence and DP World Tour campaigner Zander Lombard as well as Robin Williams, who is currently second on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit delivered by The Courier Guy and who came close to a maiden victory on the DP World Tour this season.

Wilco Nienaber, Oliver Bekker and Luca Filippi, who have all finished runner-up in this tournament before, are also set to tee it up next week.

The field also includes Heinrich Bruiners, who won at the Eurphoria Golf and Lifestyle Estate early in his career and last week ended an 11-year win drought with his victory in the Stella Artois Players Championship.

Haydn Porteous, a former DP World Tour winner who after a few challenging years finished second in the Stella Artois Players Championship last week, will continue his comeback in Limpopo.

The 72-hole tournament will be broadcast live on SuperSport and offers free entry for spectators to an event that is planning to showcase the impact of the tournament in a Limpopo Province that has seen over R25 million invested back into the local economy through this event as well as a 35% investment of the tournament’s operational budget in local businesses.

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24th March 2024

Emotional Bruiners wins Stella Artois Players Championship

DAINFERN, Johannesburg – Heinrich Bruiners woke up at 1:30am on the day of the final round of the Stella Artois Players Championship and had the number of eight under par in his mind. Several hours later he shot an eight-under-par 64 to end an 11-year win drought with his emotional victory in this Sunshine Tour event at Dainfern Golf Estate on Sunday.

Bruiners birdied his final three holes to finish on 28 under par, one shot ahead of Jaco Ahlers (66), Michael Hollick (68) and Haydn Porteous (68).

It was an emotional win for a man who has worked so hard to reclaim the form that saw him win the 2013 Vodacom Origins of Golf, and who has had to overcome a car accident, serious injury and sometimes even his own doubts as he’s fought his way back into the winner’s circle.

“It’s been such a long journey to stand with a trophy again. I never stopped believing, but it was tough. But everyone behind the scenes has been supporting me. The Nomads, the guys on the driving ranges – I’m so grateful for those who have been behind me. When you’re on top everybody wants to be part of the victory but there is a lot of darkness and searching to get to the top,” said Bruiners, who finished before the final group and was on the putting green preparing for a playoff before he broke down in tears when it was confirmed that he had won.

“I just want to thank everybody involved and everybody who supports the Sunshine Tour. My fellow professionals have stepped up to another level and it’s pushed me to work even harder. We all fight to get on the big stage and it’s really nice to stand here with a trophy. I told my girlfriend I’m going to do something special this week. It’s crazy. It’s written in the stars,” he said.

This week showcased some of the best scoring seen on the Sunshine Tour as players threatened to shoot 59 while a number of golfers had 29s for nine holes. It was exactly the realization of how the standard of golf is improving on the Sunshine Tour that Bruiners says pushed him to work even harder at his own game.

“Everyone has been playing so well and the standard of golf is unbelievable. I remember shooting four under at Glendower Golf Club in a regular Sunshine Tour event and finishing in the top 10. This year, four under on the same golf course was just the cut at the Jonsson Workwear Open. It’s unbelievable.” – Michael Vlismas.