ST FRANCIS BAY (Eastern Cape) – The PGA Championship, which tees off at St Francis Links on Thursday, has a tantalising field of Sunshine Tour professionals pushing to add their names to the trophy of South Africa’s second oldest professional tournament.
While George Coetzee and Chile’s Matias Calderon are obvious favourites as winners of this prestigious title in 2011 and 2018 respectively, it is the runners-up here in recent years as well as a host of in-form players locally who could break through this week.
The field this week includes 11 of the 19 winners on the Sunshine Tour this season, with Combrinck Smit as the most recent champion.
Smit’s victory in the Vodacom Origins of Golf Final in windy conditions at Pinnacle Point Estate last week would’ve been the perfect preparation for a St Francis Links course where the weather can be just as challenging. And his second-place finish in the 2018 PGA Championship will also be enough motivation to go one better this week.
Albert Venter has already won twice this year to lift him into second place on the Sunshine Tour’s Luno Order of Merit, and he is coming off a top-five finish in the Vodacom Origins of Golf Final.
MJ Viljoen has finishes of fifth and seventh in the 2017 and 2020 PGA Championships to suggest he could add his name to this historic trophy this week.
And Ruan Korb, Ockie Strydom, Jayden Schaper, Heinrich Bruiners and Hennie O’Kennedy all performed well in the last Sunshine Tour event played at St Francis Links in October.