JOHANNESBURG – With the Sunshine Tour adding another two DP World Tour co-sanctioned tournaments in last week’s MyGolfLife Open hosted by Pecanwood and this week’s Steyn City Championship at The Club at Steyn City, it’s reaffirmed in the minds of many the overall quality of the golf product offered by the Sunshine Tour.
The Sunshine Tour is currently in the midst of a run of seven tournaments co-sanctioned with the Challenge Tour and a further two co-sanctioned with the DP World Tour, adding to the Joburg Open, South African Open and Alfred Dunhill Championship which already feature on the DP World Tour schedule.
It’s a schedule of opportunity that leading Sunshine Tour campaigner JC Ritchie has described as “life changing” for the South African professionals.
And it’s one that is equally appreciated by the European golfers who venture south every year to compete on the Sunshine Tour.
Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal is a European winner on South African fairways, most recently in last week’s MyGolfLife Open hosted by Pecanwood, and before this in the 2019 Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.
So, of his six DP World Tour victories to date, two have come on the Sunshine Tour.
“My professional golf career started in South Africa in the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December 2007. This place is so special to me. I probably have as many South African friends as Spanish friends. I love the South African people because they are very similar to the Spanish.
“It’s a dream to come here and play the game of golf. There is always great weather and good-looking golf courses out here. It feels like a second home to me. I knew from the moment I first came here that there is something very special about this country, and it’s the people. I love good golf courses and nature, and South Africa has it all.”
“I always love coming back to South Africa,” added England’s Ross Fisher, who won out here in the 2014 Tshwane Open.
“The first time I was here was probably at the end of 2005. It was my first year after getting my card from the Challenge Tour and then Qualifying School. I’ve always loved playing Leopard Creek at the end of the year, and I’ve always loved the Gary Player Country Club course. The courses here just seem to fit my eye. I love this type of grass and how the ball just sits up on it. It just suits my high ball flight.
“It’s just always a place I’ve enjoyed coming to, and it’s always a place I look on my schedule and think how I can come back to South Africa. My game is suited to playing out here so I was excited that there were a couple more events to come back to.”
Scotland’s Richie Ramsay is back in South Africa for this run of DP World Tour events, and as the winner of the 2009 South African Open Championship.
“I always like coming to South Africa. The food is always first class. I’ve brought my family down here before. The weather is always good and you’re one or two hours off time zones, which suits so many of us,” he said.
Spain’s Adri Arnaus could also concur. “I’ve been coming to South Africa for four years now and it has some of my favourite golf courses in Leopard Creek and the Gary Player Country Club at Sun City. The Sunshine Tour is one of the best tours in the world and those who are able to play it here in South Africa are very fortunate. The smaller tours in Europe lack this quality of golf courses and purses. It’s great to have them partner with the DP World Tour.” – Michael Vlismas
Photo: With two of his six DP World Tour wins coming on the Sunshine, Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal has long been a great fan of professional golf in South Africa. Credit: Tyrone Winfield/Sunshine Tour.