Sunshine Tour

SA golfers targeting summer success at home

Branden Grace (File)
Branden Grace (File)

Mossel Bay - It's entirely apt that the Vodacom Origins of Golf Final is being played on the Sunshine Tour this week, because the business end of South African professional golf is now indeed upon us.

Every professional competing at Pinnacle Point Estate in this 54-hole event from Thursday to Saturday will have one eye on the end of the 15th consecutive season of this Origins of Golf series, while also being aware that this is the last opportunity to get their games in shape before the upcoming summer.

The $7.5-million Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player tees off the summer on South African fairways at the Gary Player Country Club from November 8-11.

Rory McIlroy headlines a field including defending champion Branden Grace, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Brandon Stone and victorious European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjørn amongst the rest of the European Tour’s finest chasing Race to Dubai glory in this Rolex Series event.

Sun City remains the focus as from November 22-25 the annual Gary Player Invitational is played at The Lost City Golf Course.

The Black Knight’s charity tournament is the final stop on the annual series of global Gary Player Invitational tournaments played in Abu Dhabi, London, New York and Shanghai, all with the purpose of raising funds for charity.

And this year it will feature legendary women golfer Annika Sorenstam making only her second competitive appearance in South Africa, a trio of Masters champions in Player himself along with Trevor Immelman and Ian Woosnam, and a host of former sporting greats and celebrities joining in what has become known as a week of "Golf and Giving".

This is followed by the €1-million Mauritius Open from November 29 to December 2 at the Four Seasons Golf Club Mauritius at Anahita. This is the first of two tournaments tri-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour, European Tour and Asian Tour.

The 2018 field is headlined by Ernie Els making his debut in the tournament, while Dylan Frittelli is back to defend a title that symbolizes what this week can mean for a South African professional. His win last year helped him move into the top 50 on the Official World Golf Rankings for the first time in his career and booked him a place in all four Majors in 2018.

The second tri-sanctioned tournament takes place the following week from December 6-9 and is also a new era for the South African Open Championship.

One of the flagship tournaments of South African professional golf has been merged with the Joburg Open and will now be hosted by the City of Joburg and played on Randpark Golf Club's two golf courses of Firethorn and Bushwillow.

The SA Open will feature a field of 240 professionals - including Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace, Charl Schwartzel and former champion Brandon Stone - competing for a minimum of R17.5 million in prize money.

And the year will end with the return of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek Country Club from December 13-16. This popular tournament was absent from the schedule last year as Leopard Creek underwent a number of extensive enhancements to a golf course regularly ranked number one in the country.

Amidst all of this will also be the Second and Final Stages of the European Tour Qualifying School as well as other Qualifying Stages on tours such as the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour as the South African professionals not already exempt on either the European Tour or the PGA Tour attempt to secure a tour card for 2019.

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