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13th July 2022

Kingston triumphs on Legends Tour

Kingston headed into the final round following on from two blemish free rounds of 68 and 63 to secure the win ahead of former European Ryder Cup player Phillip Price and three-time Legends Tour winner David Shacklady.

Kingston secured his maiden Legends Tour win in November of last year at the Sergio Melpignano Senior Italian Open and also in July of last year at the WINSTONgolf Senior Open Invitational.

“It’s a great feeling,” Kingston said. “I feel like it was a tough week, I came into the week feeling like I was playing nicely I put myself in a good position in round one it was disappointing that I didn’t do any better and obviously yesterday I think that was the round that got me through the hole thing, I played great golf yesterday.

“Today, disappointed with a few mistakes that I made, putting wasn’t as great as I would have liked it to be, I felt a little under pressure, conditions weren’t easy which didn’t make it any easier and I played with two really good sportsmen Phillip (Phillip Price) and Shackers (David Shacklady) it was a great competitive round and we had a great time.

“Obviously delighted to be standing here as the champion.”

The 56-year-old has been working hard behind the scenes to ensure he can be in contention on the Legends Tour this year but admits having the sheer determination and belief helped him along the way.

“We work hard all year to try and put ourselves in these positions, and this week I put in the hours I did the work.

“I’m sad my family can’t be here to enjoy it with me but it’s just one of those things, I worked hard, in the end we pulled through with a bit of determination a bit of grit, but it all worked out fine in the end.” – Legends Tour.

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14th May 2022

Evergreen Horne targets Sunshine Tour title number 10

KLEINMOND, Western Cape – When Keith Horne won his first Sunshine Tour title in May 1998, Ernie Els was world number one, Tiger Woods was second and Davis Love III was in third place. On Sunday at the Arabella Country Estate, the 50-year-old Horne has the opportunity to win in an entirely new generation.

Horne signed for a second round of 68 in the Lombard Insurance Classic on Saturday, showing his intent early in the round when he opened with two straight birdies. His second consecutive 68 of the week lifted him to eight under par overall and into a three-stroke lead in this 54-hole tournament.

His nearest challengers are Rupert Kaminski and Louis Albertse on five under par, and both of whom were two years old when Horne claimed his maiden Sunshine Tour title. Kaminski worked his way into contention with a second round of 69 while Albertse signed for a 73.

One of the longstanding campaigners of South African golf is chasing a significant 10th title on the Sunshine Tour.

Horne has fond memories of Arabella having won a Vodacom Origins of Golf tournament here in 2017.

“I’m feeling good. My results haven’t been great of late and I was struggling a bit. But now that the overseas tours have opened up for me again after COVID-19, I’ve been working hard and it’s nice to see it paying off,” said Horne, who is relishing playing a golf course where he feels more competitive.

“We’ve been playing golf courses that are bombers’ paradises recently and I can’t compete against the youngsters anymore. It’s nice to play a stunning course like this that requires thought, where the greens are hard and fast, and where I don’t feel like I’m playing catch-up all the time. I can be competitive, and it’s inspiring me as well. It’s so nice to be back in a position to win again.” – Michael Vlismas

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19th April 2022

Altron Big Easy Tour a major boost for South African pro golf development

The Big Easy Tour, the official development tour of the Sunshine Tour, has announced that leading technology company Altron will be its new title sponsor as part of a substantial investment in the next generation of South African professional golf talent, including more tournaments and greater prize money.

The Altron Big Easy Tour will feature 10 tournaments in a schedule that will run from May to September, and which will also include record prize money for the final two tournaments of the season.

The prize money for each 36-hole tournament will be R150 000, which is an increase of R50 000 per tournament from the 2021 season. But the final two tournaments of the season – The Playoff and The Final to be played over 54 holes – will offer record prize money for the Tour of R250 000 and R300 000 respectively.

Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour, said: “We are delighted to announce this new era for the Altron Big Easy Tour which represents significant growth for our main development tour, and which offers incredible playing opportunities for those golfers wishing to graduate to the Sunshine Tour.”

“The Altron Big Easy Tour is the first step that an aspiring South African professional golfer will take on the global pathway that includes the Sunshine Tour and our associations with the Challenge Tour and DP World Tour.”

Matthew Klaas, Acting Managing Director of Altron Systems Integration, said: “As Altron we are passionate about our communities and the potential of all our people. We are, therefore, proud to be able to create the opportunity for a rising young South African professional golfer to be able to aspire to a place on the Sunshine Tour and a successful career in the game.”

The Playoff will feature the top 50 players on the Altron Big Easy Tour Order of Merit competing for R250 000 in prize money.

The top 30 players on the Order of Merit after The Playoff will qualify for The Final during which they will compete for R300 000 in prize money.

All of the tournaments will be played in Gauteng.

The Big Easy Tour was founded in 2011 with support from Ernie Els and counts current international star Christiaan Bezuidenhout amongst its former Order of Merit winners.

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29th January 2022

Committed Rohwer on track for Vodacom Origins glory

SUN CITY, North West – Shakespeare wrote it as, “To thine own self be true”. Martin Rohwer defines it “being 100% committed to every shot”. Now Rohwer, to continue to borrow from the bard, is well placed at the top of the Vodacom Origins of Golf Final’s leaderboard going into Sunday’s final act of this Sunshine Tour event.

With rounds of 66 and 67, Rohwer heads the field on 11 under par and will take a four-shot lead into the last day at the Gary Player Country Club.

Alex Haindl remains a very real threat though as his nearest challenger on seven under par following his round of 70 on Saturday, and having won on this golf course as recently as last year’s SunBet Challenge.

But Rohwer does seem to be playing with a confidence in his process that will be hard to beat.

“I’m just staying committed to every shot I hit. I pick my targets and then commit 100% to that. I think that’s been the difference. My attitude has been really good. Even though I haven’t always been swinging it 100%, I’ve been 100% committed and focused,” said Rohwer.

It was a decision he and his coach came to early in January as they plotted the way forward in 2022.

“We looked at what my process will be each week, and we decided that as long as I am improving each week and I’m ticking all the boxes I want, that’s the most important thing. Win or lose.”

The process certainly seems to be working as he’s played two very different rounds of golf to lead this field.

“In the first round, my short game was really good and then in the second round I hit the ball a lot better from tee to green. This is a great golf course, and it’s one where if you can drive the ball well you can take advantage of it.”

Now all that remains for Rohwer is to right the final scene of a victory at Sun City on Sunday.

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Sunshine Tour welcomes back limited number of fans at tournaments 1

19th January 2022

American Longbella loving South Africa as he leads Q School

American Thomas Longbella retained his place at the top of the leaderboard after two rounds of the First Stage of the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School at Maccauvlei Golf Club on Tuesday, and seems to be benefitting from practising next to a Masters champion before the start of this event.

Longbella added another round of 67 to climb to 10 under par overall and two strokes clear of South African amateur Christopher Long, who posted a second round of 68. Austria’s Bernard Neumayer, South African Dean O’Riley and his amateur countryman Sean Cronje all finished the day on seven under par.

Longbella, who grew up in Wisconsin, says he’s loving the Maccauvlei layout which reminds him of the golf courses he played as a youngster. And without even knowing it, he says he believes he shared the driving range with the Maccauvlei master himself, Charl Schwartzel.

“Last Friday I was on the driving range hitting balls and there was just one other guy there, but he was kind of behind me a bit so I didn’t really get a good look at him. But I could just hear him absolutely flushing every single shot. Then I went out to play nine holes and my local caddie said to me, ‘Do you know who that was? It was Charl Schwartzel’. I had been really focused on my own warm-up so hadn’t really paid attention, but my caddie seemed pretty convinced it was Schwartzel,” said Longbella.

The American has loved his time in South Africa, and it’s certainly showed in his golf as he signed for a bogey-free round on Tuesday.

“It was a good day again today. I hit the ball much better than I did in the first round. I hit a lot of fairways and greens and I kept it in play off the tee. It’s been fun. This is the first time I’ve been across the Atlantic. I’ve been enjoying the monkeys on the course. I’ve never seen a wild monkey in my life and now every day I’m seeing these little guys running around. It’s been great. Everybody here has been so nice.”

The First Stage finishes on Thursday. Only the top 40 professionals and ties will progress to the Final Stage.

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Sunshine Tour welcomes back limited number of fans at tournaments 1

17th January 2022

American Longbella shares Q School lead with an ace

The journey to secure a place on the Sunshine Tour teed off for many prospective touring professionals this week with the first round of the First Stage of the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School at Maccauvlei Golf Club on Monday.

American Thomas Longbella and South African amateur Sean Cronje led the scoring on day one with rounds of five-under-par 67. Longbella’s round included a hole-in-one on the par-three 16th. “I’ve just bought my playing group some drinks,” Longbella said after the round. “I wasn’t hitting my nine iron well all day. On the 16th tee my caddie said, ‘C’mon, give me a nine iron in the grooves’ and I was like, ‘Sure, I’d love to do that. I’ve been trying all day’. And then I absolutely flushed it. It pitched 10-feet past the hole and then trickled back in. It was a good day.”

Longbella said his decision to come out to South Africa and enter the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School was based on watching Erik van Rooyen’s progress on the PGA Tour.

“Just watching Erik convinced me that the Sunshine Tour is a good place to come and play.”

Longbella and Cronje lead by one over the South African trio of Rigardt Albertse, brother of Sunshine Tour professional Louis Albertse, Dylan O’Leary and amateur Christopher Long.

Albertse was delighted with his start. “It went very well. I was very good from the tee, had a few loose iron shots and then was very good with my short game,” said the man who is making his second attempt at the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School, and who has the benefit of some inside knowledge thanks to his brother.

“Thanks to Louis I have a good idea of what life on the Sunshine Tour is all about. It’s a dream of mine to play on the Sunshine Tour.”

Long was equally pleased to make such a good start to a week which he sees as playing a vital role in his future aspirations.

“When you look at the likes of Garrick Higgo, Louis Oosthuizen and so many others, they all started here on the Sunshine Tour. This is a great foundation and that’s the plan for me.”

The Tour’s Qualifying School has drawn a field of professionals and amateurs from South Africa as well as England, Germany, the United States, Austria, South Korea, Switzerland, Reunion Island, Zimbabwe, Norway, Portugal and Sweden.

The First Stage finishes on Thursday. Only the top 40 professionals and ties will progress to the Final Stage.

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Sunshine Tour welcomes back limited number of fans at tournaments 1

20th December 2021

Sunshine Tour announces strong growth for 2022 schedule

The Sunshine Tour has announced a bold start to 2022 with a schedule including two new tournaments co-sanctioned with the DP World Tour, and seven tournaments co-sanctioned with the Challenge Tour including a new event in Tanzania.

The opening four months of the New Year will see South Africa’s professional golfers competing for almost R80 million in total tournament prizemoney in what is an extremely strong and lucrative start to the Sunshine Tour season.

“A tremendous amount of work together with the ongoing support of our Chairman Mr Johann Rupert, our Executive Director Selwyn Nathan, our Board of Directors, our partners and sponsors has allowed us to announce what we believe is a fabulous Sunshine Tour schedule to start the year with,” said Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour.

“We are delighted to be able to grow our relationship with the DP World Tour and the Challenge Tour with the offering of even more opportunities for our member professionals to secure a place on an international tour while playing at home. This significantly enhances what has always been our global pathway to success for our professionals.

“We also have several new sponsors on board that have recognised the value professional golf offers. I’d also like to pay tribute to our existing sponsors – Dimension Data, Bain’s Whisky, City of Cape Town, the Limpopo Tourism Authority, Vodacom and the Kit Kat Group – many of whom have been with us for a very long time and who continue to give us the means to build on a Sunshine Tour brand that is globally recognised as a place of opportunity and reflective of our slogan that ‘GreatnessBeginsHere’.”

The Sunshine Tour’s 2022 schedule tees off in the final week in January with the Vodacom Origins of Golf Final at the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City.

February, March and April include the Challenge Tour’s Southern African Swing, which has now grown from three tournaments to seven.

The first new event is the Jonsson Workwear Open, which will be played at both Durban Country Club and Mt Edgecombe Country Club.

“Creating opportunities for passionate people to perform at their peak is the common thread that ties the Sunshine Tour to Jonsson Workwear. We are proud to introduce the Jonsson Workwear Open, a flagship event that will support our continuous efforts in building Durban as a city and KwaZulu-Natal as a region of endless possibilities,” said Nick Jonsson, Chairman and CEO of Jonsson Workwear.

This is followed by the Mangaung Open at both Bloemfontein Golf Club and Schoeman Park Golf Club.

The SDC Open also joins the Challenge Tour co-sanctioned schedule and will be played at the Zebula Golf Estate & Spa and Elements Private Golf Reserve in Limpopo.

“As an organization passionate about developing others in their personal and professional life, we took up this opportunity as a means of getting a greater awareness around what the SDC Group does to develop and grow the skills and wealth of people in South Africa. We are honoured to be associated with the prestige that comes with the tournament,” said Daniel Gibhard, CEO of the Skills Development Corporation (SDC).

The Tour then branches out into Tanzania for the first time for the new Mount Kilimanjaro Klassic at the Kilimanjaro Golf & Wildlife Estate in Tanzania.

“Tanzania’s Tourism is one of the main pillars of our economy. Golf has been identified as a major catalyst for tourism development globally. The launch of the Challenge Tour tournament will go a long way in developing golf tourism to showcase our unparalleled natural attractions,” said the Hon. Dr Damas Ndumbaro, Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism in Tanzania.

These new Challenge Tour events join the existing Dimension Data Pro-Am (Fancourt), Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open (Royal Cape Golf Club and Rondebosch Golf Club), and the Limpopo Championship (Euphoria Golf & Lifestyle Estate and Koro Creek Bushveld Estate).

March features the two new tournaments co-sanctioned with the DP World Tour, the $1.5 million Pecanwood Classic at the Pecanwood Golf Estate and the $1.5 million Steyn City Championship at Steyn City.

This takes to a total of five the number of tournaments the Sunshine Tour hosts on the DP World Tour, adding to the Joburg Open, South African Open and Alfred Dunhill Championship.

The Kit Kat Group Pro-Am (Irene Country Club), Players Championship (Dainfern Golf Estate) and Tour Championship (Serengeti Estates) round off the new schedule.

And the country’s next generation of stars will have the opportunity to play their way onto the Sunshine Tour through either the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School or the Vusi Ngubeni Tournament for transformation golfers.

Sunshine Tour 2022 Schedule

17-20 January – Sunshine Tour Qualifying School First Stage (Maccauvlei GC and Benoni CC)

28-30 January – Vodacom Origins of Golf Final R1 000 000 (Gary Player CC, Sun City)

4-6 February – Kit Kat Group Pro-Am R1 000 000 (Irene CC)

10-13 February – Dimension Data Pro-Am $375 000 (Fancourt)

17-20 February – Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open $250 000 (Royal Cape GC and Rondebosch GC)

24-27 February – Jonsson Workwear Open $250 000 (Durban CC and Mt Edgecombe CC)

3-6 March – Mangaung Open $250 000 (Bloemfontein GC and Schoeman Park GC)

8-9 March – Vusi Ngubeni Qualifying Tournament (Modderfontein GC)

10-13 March – Pecanwood Classic $1 500 000 (Pecanwood Golf and Country Club)

17-20 March – Steyn City Championship $1 500 000 (Steyn City)

24-27 March – SDC Open $250 000 (Zebula Golf Estate & Spa and Elements Private Golf Reserve)

31 March – 3 April – Limpopo Championship $250 000 (Euphoria Golf & Lifestyle Estate and Koro Creek Bushveld Estate)

7-10 April – Mount Kilimanjaro Klassic $275 000 (Kilimanjaro Golf & Wildlife Estate)

21-24 April – The Players Championship R2 000 000 (Dainfern Golf Estate)

28 April – 1 May Tour Championship R1 500 000 (Serengeti Estates)

26-29 April – Sunshine Tour Qualifying School Final Stage R100 000 (Gauteng – Venue TBC)

26-29 April – Vusi Ngubeni Tournament R100 000 (Gauteng – Venue TBC)

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Oosthuizen chasing Open glory

18th July 2021

Oosthuizen chasing Open glory

Louis Oosthuizen will take a one-shot lead into Sunday’s final round of The Open as he seeks to claim the second Major of his career at Royal St George’s.

Oosthuizen signed for a third round of 69 to climb to 12 under par, one stroke clear of Collin Morikawa and three ahead of Jordan Spieth.

The South African now has the chance to join an elite club of outright wire-to-wire winners of The Open. Since World War II, only three players have managed to win The Open by leading on their own from start to finish. They were Tom Weiskopf in 1973, Tiger Woods in 2005 and Rory McIlroy in 2014.

The rest of the South African challenge also still looks good, with Dylan Frittelli tied sixth on seven under par, and Justin Harding tied ninth on six under par.

“Finishing second isn’t great, so I will play my heart out and see if I can lift the Claret Jug again,” said Oosthuizen, who has a Grand Slam of runner-up finishes in the Majors, and who has finished second in the last two Majors this year alone.

“I think all of us are just human to think of lifting the trophy, and that’s going to be in your mind. But I think you just need to know it and how to handle it. Once we get on the golf course, it’s all golf. You need to believe that you can lift the trophy, as well, and if you think about it beforehand that you might win this championship, I think that’s great, and you have to believe you can do it.” – Sunshine Tour/European Tour/The Open

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Oosthuizen in the hunt at US Open

18th June 2021

Oosthuizen in the hunt at US Open

Louis Oosthuizen moved into a share of the lead alongside clubhouse pacesetter Russell Henley as darkness saw play suspended on day one of the 2021 US Open Championship.

A 90-minute fog delay at the start of the day meant that some players had as many as six holes to complete on Friday morning but that was no problem for home favourite Henley, who carded a 67 from the fourth group of the day to get to four under at Torrey Pines Golf Club.

Oosthuizen then joined him at that mark and was left with a 35-foot putt on his penultimate hole to take the solo lead when the hooter sounded, with a host of European Tour members in the chasing pack.

Francesco Molinari – the 2018 Open Champion – was at three under alongside Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello, with another Spaniard in Jon Rahm two off the lead.

Masters Tournament Champion Hideki Matsuyama, 2017 and 2018 winner of this event Brooks Koepka and Americans Hayden Buckley and Xander Schauffele were also at two under.

Colombian Sebastian Munoz was also two under through 14, with 11 players three shots off the lead in the clubhouse including four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy.

Oosthuizen already has a Major to his name at the 2010 Open Championship but has finished second five times in golf’s four biggest events, including this one in 2015.

The fifth of those runner up finishes came at last month’s US PGA Championship and the South African was enjoying the test of Torrey Pines.

“I just enjoy playing really tough golf courses,” he said. “I think somehow I focus a little bit better when I play those courses, knowing that the margin for error is really small.

“Especially around this place, you’ve got to drive it well, you’ve got to start it in the fairway, and you’re going to have trouble if you’re missing fairways around this golf course and I’ve really been driving it good lately.”

The 38-year-old bogeyed the 11th but holed a 20 footer on the 12th and then made a hat-trick of gains from the 16th with two more long putts and a two putt on the par five 18th.

He holed an 11-footer on the fifth to join the lead and was left with another lengthy putt at the par five ninth to come when darkness fell. – European Tour

 

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It's pros vs Stormers rugby stars in Bain's Whisky Cape Town Open

27th April 2021

Cape Town and Stormers welcome Sunshine Tour

The Mother City’s finest rugby players arrived at the Royal Cape Golf Club on Tuesday to personally welcome the Sunshine Tour professionals competing in this week’s Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open in the only way they know how – with a match.

After the official pro-am of the tournament, DHL Stormers stars Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Scarra Ntubeni and Neethling Fouche challenged Sunshine Tour professionals Brandon Stone, Daniel van Tonder, Keenan Davidse and Benjamin Follett-Smith to a par-three contest on Royal Cape’s fourth hole.

Playing as a team against each other, the Sunshine Tour professionals were handicapped by having to play from their worst tee shot and each pro also had to play each of their shots or putts twice before they could score, while the Stormers could play from their best shot and only needed one shot or putt to score.

The result was a convincing 4-0 victory by the Stormers.

“Going 0-4 against four big rugby players on home turf was a tough pill to swallow. I would say we’ll meet them in the car park, but looking at the size of them probably not,” said Stone, who captained the Sunshine Tour professionals for this challenge.

But although pleased with the victory, the rugby players were simply delighted to have played a hole with the Sunshine Tour pros and seen, from “inside the ropes”, another side of them from what they follow on television.

“It’s so great to have a Sunshine Tour event in Cape Town and we’re looking forward to watching them on TV. I think for the whole of Cape Town it’s quite an exciting event,” said Kitshoff.

Fouche was just as delighted with the experience. “What a privilege to have played with these pros. I’m a massive golf fanatic, and to play with them and see that they’re just human beings like us was a privilege. What a day.”

And Ntubeni, who holed the winning putt for his team, admits to never having been this nervous before.

“There’s a lot of banter until you stand over that ball. It’s quite stressful. I can imagine how hectic it is for them in a tournament. It was so good to meet them. To have them in our city is so important for other aspiring young golfers out there, and even for us as keen golfers. We look up to them, and we wish them the best of luck for this week.”

Malherbe was also full of respect for the pressure the pros face during competition.

“There’s a lot more pressure on individual sports. It’s only up to them. In a team you have the safety of your teammates. So it was awesome to see how they go about it. What a nice experience. I wish the guys all the best this week.”

Professional Van Tonder said he’s ready for a return match against the rugby players. “I would’ve liked to have taken them on over a par five where I can intimidate them a bit with my driver. But it was great fun. They’re a great bunch of guys.”

The Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open is a tournament co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and European Challenge Tour and tees off at Royal Cape Golf Club with the first round on Thursday.

 

Photo: Carl Fourie/Sunshine Tour