The Sunshine Tour has announced a significant increase in prize money on its schedule, with a host of tournaments, including this week’s FNB Eswatini Challenge, now featuring minimum purses of R2 million.
The prize money increase for the FNB Eswatini Challenge, to be played at the Nkonyeni Lodge and Golf Estate from 27-29 July, is a particular boost for a tournament only in its second year on the schedule but which has already made a significant impact to the growth of the game in Eswatini.
“It’s quite significant for FNB Eswatini that in the one year since the tournament’s debut we have made such a meaningful contribution to raising the standard of professional golf locally. We are committed to this goal and are particularly excited that of the 120 players that will be playing in the 2023 FNB Eswatini Challenge, 15 of them are local and therefore have a fair chance at the prize fund,” said FNB Eswatini CEO, Dennis Mbingo.
The prize fund increase means this year’s winner will receive double what Jaco Prinsloo earned for winning the inaugural title.
Sunshine Tour Commissioner, Thomas Abt, said the prize money increase are the collective effort of the Tour and its loyal sponsors and partners to keep building on the growth of the past few seasons.
“We are extremely grateful to be able to elevate the status of many of our tournaments and raise their prize money to a minimum of R2 million. For tournaments such as the FNB Eswatini Challenge, this elevates them to Level 2-tier points status on The Order of Merit delivered by The Courier Guy, which means increased opportunity for those professionals taking part while at the same time strengthening the respective fields. We are thrilled to have a passionate brand like FNB Eswatini join us on this journey and we hope to grow the event with them for many years to come,” said Abt.
In recognizing the growth of the tournament, Mbingo also praised the support and endorsement of the tournament by the regional golf body in Eswatini.
“It’s a significant moment for us as the Sunshine Tour’s support is reflective of the shared commitment we have towards ensuring excellence in the sport. This, however, does not mean we neglect the development imperative as in addition to rewarding consistency and professionalism through the FNB Eswatini Challenge we support the development of junior golf locally.”
Mandla Dlamini, President of the Eswatini Golf Union, said they were extremely grateful to FNB Eswatini and the Sunshine Tour for their contribution to the sport in the country.
“The bank is already making a significant contribution to the development of our junior golfers and for that we are grateful,” he said.
Musa Mdluli, Chairperson of the Eswatini Professional Golfers’ Association, said this was another major incentive for the country’s local professionals.
“We expect great things from the Eswatini players and it would be an honour to have some of them challenging for the title.”
This year’s field is set to draw professionals from South Africa, Eswatini, the United States of America, Great Britain, Portugal, Greece, and Korea. Other African countries represented include Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Eswatini’s 15 representing golfers will include 13 professionals and two amateurs who qualified through the two-day pre-qualifier last month which featured over 80 local golfers vying for spots in the main tournament.