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28th November 2023

Bok great Smit salutes Investec SA Open and SA golf stars

The Investec South African Open is a national treasure, and if anybody understands the value of this icon of South African sport then it’s John Smit, the former captain of another national treasure in the Springboks.

“You look at our golfers and consider how long golf in this country has kept South Africans full of hope and pride. We’re this small little country that keeps on producing champions. What sport does in this country is it distracts us a bit from the daily challenges, but it also makes us realise just how tenacious we can be on the sports field,” said Smit as he teed off with former Investec South African Open champion Christiaan Bezuidenhout in Tuesday’s pro-am at the Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate.

“It’s just great to spend time with these golfers who are also our heroes. I saw the videos of many of our golfers celebrating Siya Kolisi’s team win the Rugby World Cup. Then to play with somebody like Christiaan and also see Dean Burmester win last week, it’s a privilege for us.”

Bezuidenhout was at home in America when he watched the Springboks win a record fourth Rugby World Cup in Paris. And he did so with another icon of South African sport.

“I actually watched it with Ernie Els at his house,” said Bezuidenhout as he looked forward to his round with Smit. “I’ve played a few rounds of golf with John (Smit) and he’s just a great guy to be around.”

Bezuidenhout wrote his own name into the proud history of South African golf and this championship with his Investec South African Open victory in 2020.

“This is special for any South African golfer growing up. It’s the one you really want to win and I’ve fortunate enough to have ticked it off, but I’d love to add my name to it again.”

The second oldest national Open in golf has drawn another strong field ahead of Thursday’s first round.

Thriston Lawrence is back to defend his title alongside former champions Bezuidenhout, Daniel van Tonder, Hennie Otto, Brandon Stone and Andy Sullivan, Major winner Charl Schwartzel, last week’s Joburg Open champion Dean Burmester, and a selection of GolfRSA’s top amateurs led by world number one-ranked amateur and winner of The Amateur Championship this year, Christo Lamprecht.

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Leopard Creek an inspiration as Stone finds new focus

South Africa’s Brandon Stone will head back to Leopard Creek next week with the positive memories of being a former winner of the Alfred Dunhill Championship, but with a very different focus to his career having regained his DP World Tour card for this current season.

The 2016 champion of this Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned event joins another quality field for the 7-10 December championship including defending champion Ockie Strydom, double PGA Tour champion Erik van Rooyen, recent Joburg Open champion Dean Burmester, Major winners Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, and former Alfred Dunhill Championship winners Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Branden Grace.

“There’s an immense sense of gratitude going back to Leopard Creek as a previous winner of the Alfred Dunhill Championship. At the same time, there is that part in all of us as professional golfers that wants your name on that trophy more than once. That’s the objective for me,” said Stone.

Stone’s victory in 2016 came amidst a prolific period in world golf for him when he won the Investec South African Open that same year. In 2018 he added a third DP World Tour title with the Genesis Scottish Open and achieved his best finish in a Major of 12th in the PGA Championship.

But what followed was a challenging period in which he lost his playing privileges on the DP World Tour. He worked his way back onto the main circuit through the European Challenge Tour this year and believes he’s a different player this time around.

“I needed to go back and find myself and my game again. I needed to remind myself of who I was as a person and a player. Looking back to the man I was a year ago, I’m almost unrecognisable. I’m back to my former self and really enjoying what I’m doing.”

But while his career may have evolved, Stone says his love for Leopard Creek has never changed.

“It’s the best place on earth – simply put. I cannot wait to get to Leopard Creek every single year. The whole atmosphere there just makes you feel a little bit more at ease. The golf course is obviously spectacular, and the setting is just as good. The energy I get from just being there in nature makes me feel a little different to any other week on tour. I’m so excited to get back.”

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26th November 2023

Inspired Burmester wins Joburg Open

Dean Burmester didn’t have much time to properly prepare for the Joburg Open, but it didn’t matter. The feeling of being back home and the passion of the fans were enough as Burmester won the Joburg Open by three strokes at Houghton Golf Club on Sunday.

With a final round of 64, Burmester claimed his third DP World Tour title on 18 under par and at the same time booked his place in next year’s Open at Royal Troon as the first of the top three finishers not already exempt for the Major.

“We recently bought a house in Florida and were busy moving so there wasn’t much time to prepare for this event,” said the now US-based Burmester. “But when I landed here I did some great preparation in the practice rounds and that set the tone for me. I felt comfortable on the golf course.”

His comfort level certainly showed in a final round where overnight leader Thriston Lawrence suddenly struggled with his game on his way to a 75 and a share of seventh place, Darren Fichardt came charging through the field with a 64 to finish second on 15 under par, and defending champion Dan Bradbury also made a run at it with a 64 of his own to finish third on 13 under par. Fichardt and Bradbury took the other two spots on offer for the 2024 Open Championship.

“It sounds pretty cool to be the Joburg Open champion,” said Burmester. “I’ve been playing this event for so long and to win it is amazing. That was my goal coming home. I hadn’t won this year and have been playing well, so to come here and win a tournament in my home country in front of my home fans with some of my family here is very special.”

Having started his career on the Sunshine Tour with his first title in the 2013 Polokwane Classic, Burmester paid special tribute to a Tour which remains close to his heart.

“The Sunshine Tour is a special place and there are a lot of friends here. It’s a great breeding ground for world golf. I’m glad to be here and be home. This is a beautiful game. Golf is growing fast. There were so many kids out here today and if this can make one kid take up golf, then it’s worth it. I was once that kid at a Sunshine Tour event in Bloemfontein standing next to a scoreboard changing scores. And now here I am today. So I want to now do my part and give back as well.”

In his own way, that was another motivation for him wanting to win this week.

“I knew what was at stake for me. My Sunshine Tour category was running out and the only way I could keep my card and keep supporting the Sunshine Tour was to win. That was my goal coming back here. I’m proud of myself, and I’m proud to be the Joburg Open champion.”

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25th November 2023

Lawrence has Joburg Open double in sight

Thriston Lawrence produced another masterclass of patience and control to earn a three-stroke lead going into Sunday’s final round of the Joburg Open at Houghton Golf Club.

On a hot day at Houghton that kept even the hadedas quiet, Lawrence signed for a third round of 67 to climb to 15 under par overall as he seeks to claim a second Joburg Open title following his win in 2021.

His nearest challenger is Dean Burmester on 12 under after he signed for a 68, while Jacques Kruyswijk and Nikhil Rama are well placed on 11 under par after respective rounds of 69 and 72.

After all the intensity of a Saturday in professional golf, Lawrence spoke with the calm resolve of a man who saw his plan fall into place.

“I had a job to do and I executed nicely,” he said.

“I had a gameplan, and that was to try and play the exact same golf I did the first two days and I executed it. I stayed nice and patient. I could’ve probably gone lower than three under and there were a couple more putts I could’ve made, but it’s Saturday and the final group so it’s not always going to go your way. But it was still a job well done.”

It was indeed a well-executed gameplan on a day which began with Lawrence one shot behind leader Rama.

The 22-year-old Rama, playing possibly the biggest third round of his professional career, did extremely well to recover from a double bogey at the opening hole and keep himself in contention.

Kruyswijk was equally resilient as he bogeyed two of his first three holes and then unleashed his frustration on a run of four birdies in six holes thereafter to fight his way back into the title chase.

And Lawrence looked the most comfortable of all, especially on his chip-in to save par on the eighth.

“I’m very happy with my game at the moment. I’ve learnt the last couple of years playing on these big stages that you need to stay patient. I’ve done a good job of forgetting about the bogeys and staying in the present. That was what I wanted to achieve today and I did that.”

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24th November 2023

Rama ready to step into Joburg Open history

Nikhil Rama started playing golf because he felt left out as a young boy walking the fairways with his dad, uncles and cousins who played the game. The 22-year-old South African will now go into the weekend of the Joburg Open with a one-stroke lead. And he certainly doesn’t feel left out anymore.

In another of the many golf fairytales in Joburg Open history, Rama shot his lowest competitive round as a professional – a bogey-free 62 – on Friday to lead this Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned event on 13 under par.

His nearest challenger is former champion Thriston Lawrence one shot back following a 66. Dean Burmester added a 62 of his own to join Jacques Kruyswijk (64) right in the hunt just three shots off the lead.

But at the moment, this is all Rama’s story.

Raised in Johannesburg, Rama found his way to this point in his career via family golf, then playing SA Kids Golf tournaments and representing Central Gauteng and competing in GolfRSA events before turning professional in 2020.

“I wasn’t much of a junior golfer, then I started working with Hendrik Buhrmann and my golf really started to improve in 2019. I turned pro and thought let’s see what happens,” he says.

The Sunshine Tour, recognising his talent, made him a member of their Papwa Sewgolum Class for transformation players on Tour, and this season has been a breakout one for Rama as he’s had six top-10s including fourth in the recent Vodacom Origins of Golf Final which secured him a place in the Joburg Open – a tournament which has always reserved place in its field for transformation golfers. Investec, a patron of the Papwa Sewgolum Class, has also awarded Rama a sponsor’s invitation to compete in next week’s Investec South African Open.

So it’s not hard to see how this weekend represents a potentially life-changing moment for Rama. As it was for Lawrence when he broke through here in 2021 and Dan Bradbury when he did the same in 2022.

And judging by his golf on Friday – six birdies and a magnificent eagle two on the third of this par-70 course which his caddie Shannon knows extremely well – he’s absolutely ready for it.

“What can I say – I’m just really excited. I’m enjoying the pressure and the fans, and just trying to have fun. It will obviously be a little different being in the final group on Saturday. But I’ll play some Fortnite with friends tonight and we’ll see how it goes on Saturday.”

This weekend, the boy who once felt left out could become the man who finds a new home in world golf.

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23rd November 2023

Lawrence leads in Joburg Open

Thriston Lawrence made a strong bid to become only the third player to win two Joburg Open titles as he opened with a superb eight-under-par 62 to lead the first round by three strokes at Houghton Golf Club on Thursday.

Lawrence, the champion in 2021 and who is looking to join Charl Schwartzel and Richard Sterne as double winners of this title, produced a flawless round of golf that started with five birdies in his opening six holes. He added a further three birdies on the back nine for a round that is the lowest ever recorded at Houghton Golf Club with the course playing as a par 70 as it is this week.

“The putter was hot. It felt like I was reading the putts really nicely. The greens are firm so you could play some nice shots and plan for the undulations on these greens. I was pin high a few times, the proximity to the hole was good and the putter was on fire,” said Lawrence.

Lawrence’s nearest challenger is fellow South African Nikhil Rama who signed for a five-under-par 65, while defending champion Dan Bradbury – who was playing with Lawrence – is in a strong group of players on four under par which also includes Zander Lombard, Andy Sullivan, Jayden Schaper and Stephen Gallacher.

“I was trying to hang on with Thriston but he left me on the back nine. It was great playing with him though because he just kept hitting good golf shots. I hit a lot of very good shots and I had a few putts that I don’t know how they missed, but I’m still happy with the start,” said Bradbury.

Rama was equally delighted with his start. The young South African professional played his way into this event with a top-five finish in the Sunshine Tour’s Vodacom Origins of Golf Final, and took full advantage on Thursday.

“I’ve been playing really well and it’s good to see it pay off again. I know this golf course well. There was a bit of breeze but my game was very solid. I’m just enjoying it. It’s great being able to compete in a Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned event,” he said.

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Mayor tees off 2023 Joburg Open

It was a proud moment as the Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Cllr Kabelo Gwamanda, hit the ceremonial tee shot for the 2023 Joburg Open, and which also marked the start of the new season on the DP World Tour at Houghton Golf Club on Thursday.

“It was an exciting moment for me to be so closely associated with a sport that is a major tourist attraction for us,” said the Executive Mayor.

“We’ve been looking forward to this moment for months now and I’m very proud. The City of Johannesburg has a rich history and heritage. We have world-class facilities here and are delighted to welcome professionals from around the world to our city.

“I wish the professionals well and encourage our residents to come and join us for what is going to be a wonderful event.” A total of 155 professional golfers from around the world will be competing at Houghton Golf Club this week for a share of the R20.5 million in prize money.

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22nd November 2023

New dad Bezuidenhout chasing Joburg Open glory

Christiaan Bezuidenhout has returned home with an even stronger desire to win this week’s Joburg Open as he now plays for something bigger than just his own career.

Bezuidenhout became a father for the first time three weeks ago, and this marks the family’s first trip back to South Africa since then.

“We welcomed our son John about three weeks ago. It’s nice to be back in South Africa and to see friends and family again, and all the friendly faces on the Sunshine Tour as well,” he said.

Having already won the Investec South African Open and the Alfred Dunhill Championship, Bezuidenhout would love to add the Joburg Open to complete his list of Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned titles at this time of the year. Especially as one of South Africa’s international stars who always returns home to support his local Tour.

“It’s always nice to come back home and support the local events. It’s great that the Joburg Open can have such a strong field and that kind of support shown for the Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour,” he said of this year’s field which includes eight former champions, as well as a tantalising mix of local professionals hoping to make their mark such as Karabo Mokoena, Tristin Galant, Yurav Premlall and Siyanda Mwandla.

Bezuidenhout came close in this tournament at Houghton last year when he finished tied third behind English champion Dan Bradbury. Bezuidenhout’s other top finishes in this event include tied 15th in 2020, tied 30th in 2017 and tied 22nd in 2016.

He brings with him a game which he is still busy refining, but where he will certainly feel comfortable in conditions very familiar to him.

“I’ve made a few changes in my team and started with a new coach about six months ago. I had to make quite a few changes in my swing to get a little more consistency in my ball striking, so I’m still working through a few things in my swing. But I always feel comfortable playing in South Africa, and knowing the weather and the grass and the style of courses here. I’ve always been a fan of Houghton Golf Club and the course looks the best I’ve ever seen it. I’m looking forward to a great week.”

Tickets for the Joburg Open are available at

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21st November 2023

Schwartzel amongst nine former champions back for Joburg Open glory

The Joburg Open has drawn one of its strongest fields in history, with nine former winners of this event set to tee it up at Houghton Golf Club in Thursday’s first round of this Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned tournament.

It’s a strong appreciation of a tournament that also marks the start of the DP World Tour’s new season, and which is also the first event on the 2024 Open Qualifying Series. The top three golfers to make the cut this week who are not yet already exempt for the 152nd Open at Royal Troon next year will secure their place in this Major.

Charl Schwartzel returns to a tournament where he owns the unique record of being the only golfer to have won back-to-back Joburg Open titles in 2010 and 2011.

“I saw some highlights of them showing my win in 2011 and I almost didn’t recognise myself. I was so skinny back then, but the swing looked really good,” said Schwartzel.

“Johannesburg has always been special to me. I’ve had good success in this area and especially at the Joburg Open, so I decided to make a comeback here and I’m excited about it.”

Defending champion Dan Bradbury returns as the most recent winner on a list of former champions also including Thriston Lawrence, Branden Grace, Joachim B Hansen, Haydn Porteous, Shubhankar Sharma, Darren Fichardt and Andy Sullivan.

For Bradbury, Lawrence, Hansen, Porteous, Sharma and Grace this tournament marked their first DP World Tour titles. Grace in particular won the 2012 Joburg Open to tee off a breakthrough year in which he won four titles internationally.

It all makes for a star-studded lineup ready to challenge for more Joburg Open glory this week.

“It’s great that so many former champions have come back to support the tournament. This is a great event on a good golf course, and this is a strong field this week,” said Bradbury.

“It’s a really nice feeling coming back. Just driving in here, everything looks the same as it did last year, so hopefully my game is also the same. It’s been a fantastic year for me and it all started here in Joburg.”

Lawrence returns as the 2021 champion, which was also his big breakthrough in a career that now includes four DP World Tour titles.

“It’s nice to see all the winners come back to support this tournament. This tournament changed my life and gave me the opportunities to get to where I am today. It’s also nice to be home and on a golf course I’m very familiar with having played these courses since my junior golf days. I’m looking forward to this week,” he said.

Tickets for the Joburg Open are available at

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20th November 2023

Waterfall City Tournament of Champions powered by Attacq sees Sunshine Tour field compete for R1 million first prize

The Sunshine Tour will tee off its 2024/25 season with the new Waterfall City Tournament of Champions powered by Attacq that will feature a field of champions throughout South African golf all chasing a first prize of R1 million.

The tournament, to be played at Royal Johannesburg Golf Club’s East Championship Course from 2-5 May 2024 and with live coverage on SuperSport, will include a field of champions comprised largely of winners of Sunshine Tour events during the 2023/24 season.

The field will also include:

– The winner of the 2023/24 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit delivered by the Courier Guy

– The 2023/24 Fortress Rookie of the Year

– The leading Papwa Sewgolum Class player from the 2023/24 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit delivered by the Courier Guy not otherwise exempt

– South African Winners of international tournaments held outside of the borders of South Africa from 1 January 2023 until the Waterfall City Tournament of Champions powered by Attacq

– The winner of the 2024 Sunshine Ladies Tour Order of Merit

– Sunshine Ladies Tour winners from 2024

– The winner of the 2023 Altron Big Easy Tour Order of Merit

– The winner of the 2024 African Amateur

– The leading amateur from the GolfRSA Order of Merit, as nominated by GolfRSA

– 5 wild card entries

“We are proud to welcome the Waterfall City Tournament of Champions powered by Attacq and also supported by The Courier Guy to our Sunshine Tour schedule and look forward to teeing off our new season with a true celebration of the champions of South African golf,” said Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour.

“This tournament will celebrate the very best of South African golf as we showcase our Sunshine Tour and Sunshine Ladies Tour winners as well as our top transformation player, our next generation of professional stars and our top amateurs.”

Image (from left to right): Sunshine Tour champions Hennie Otto, Ryan van Velzen, Luca Filippi, Kyle Barker and Rupert Kaminski with Willie Vos, CEO Waterfall Management Company; Michael Clampett, Asset Management and Property Executive Attacq Limited; Simon Hill, Marketing Manager The Courier Guy; and Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour at the official launch of the Waterfall City Tournament of Champions powered by Attacq.