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22nd March 2024

Sunshine Tour pros on fire in Stella Artois Players Championship

DAINFERN, Johannesburg – When Heinrich Bruiners was asked what it will take to win the Stella Artois Players Championship at Dainfern Golf Estate this weekend, the co-leader laughed. After another day of incredible scoring, it feels as though nothing short of a 59 will be needed to claim victory on Sunday.

“I can’t believe it. The amount of rounds of 10 under par I saw today was incredible. I think the winning score will be around 27 under or 28 under with the way things are going. It just shows the level of golf on the Sunshine Tour,” said Bruiners, who is in a four-way tie for the lead on 15 under par going into the weekend.

Bruiners secured his place at the top of the leaderboard with a bogey-free 65. He is joined there by Michael Hollick who also signed for a 65, Zimbabwe’s Robson Chinhoi who posted a 64, and 2022 champion Jaco Ahlers who shot an incredible 62.

They are only one shot clear of a host of players on 14 under par including first-round leader Rourke van der Spuy.

But further down the leaderboard the scoring was still equally impressive on Friday.

Wynand Dingle worked his way to within two shots of the lead with a bogey-free 61. JJ Senekal also heads into the weekend on 13 under par following a 62. And Ryan van Velzen and Nikhil Rama both had nines of 29 to lift them to 11 under par overall.

Bruiners says it’s a reflection of the standard of golf being played on the Sunshine Tour, and it’s inspired him to work even harder at his game.

“I think people out there would immediately assume the golf course is a lot shorter, but we play it off the back tees. Look, you can go out and try and shoot those scores. It’s just awesome to see the standard the Sunshine Tour is at. It’s really impressive. It’s also been an added boost for me to work even harder.

“I’m excited. It’s so nice to be in the mix and leading the tournament. I enjoy it when I’m up there. I know people feel there’s expectation, but this is what I work for and I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made.”

It’s now been 11 years since Bruiners’ last victory on the Sunshine Tour and he says he’s more motivated than ever to prove he can win again.

“This has been the cumulation of a lot of things. I’ve changed my golf ball and made a few equipment changes, but I’ve also worked very hard. I’ve been driven to work even harder and keep making changes. Since Covid I’ve been grinding it out. I just want to feel like I can win again. That’s a big thing for me. I know people say you should play to make a living, but my biggest drive is to win on the big stage and I won’t stop until I get it right. I feel like I’m on the right path and have a bit more clarity about what I need to do. I’ll just hang in there and be patient until it’s my time.” – Michael Vlismas.