BLOEMFONTEIN – This week’s Mangaung Open could be the scene of Challenge Tour history if JC Ritchie continues his winning streak when the $250 000 tournament tees off at Bloemfontein Golf Club and Schoeman Park Golf Club on Thursday.
Ritchie has arrived in Bloemfontein as the hottest golfer on both tours with back-to-back wins in the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open and last week’s Jonsson Workwear Open. A third consecutive victory would be a first in Challenge Tour history and would also earn him automatic promotion to the DP World Tour.
“I thought about taking a week off this week to get a rest, but while I’m hot I’ll keep playing and see if I’ll be blessed to get another win,” said Ritchie.
“I’ll take this week as calmly as I can and get my energy levels back up because there are still a lot of events coming up. These Challenge Tour events on the Sunshine Tour are life-changing for us. Previously, the chances were quite limited for South Africans to get onto the DP World Tour. You had the big co-sanctioned tournaments and then qualifying school. For us to have another foot in the door and a few more stepping stones we can climb with this Challenge Tour series is life-changing for us.”
Ritchie is currently first on the Challenge Tour’s Road to Mallorca rankings. If he doesn’t claim another victory this week, a place inside the top 20 on the rankings at the end of the season will also secure him DP World Tour playing privileges.
That’s a goal Wilco Nienaber is also chasing after narrowly missing out last season. Nienaber is back in his hometown and will have plenty of local support as he seeks a second Challenge Tour title after winning last year’s Dimension Data Pro-Am. He narrowly missed out on a place inside the top 20 last year, finishing 21st.
Keenan Davidse will also be looking to push on from his fourth-place finish in last week’s Jonsson Workwear Open in Durban, and which has lifted him to inside the top 10 on the Road to Mallorca rankings.