Pros and rookies swing past golf event

Paula Reto.
Paula Reto.

Johannesburg - South Africa’s Olympic golfer Paula Reto and European Tour winner Haydn Porteous are expected to be star attractions at the Gary Player Invitational at Sun City’s Lost City golf course this week.

The charity event, organised by golfing legend Gary Player, starts on Friday and will be followed by the main team contest on Saturday and Sunday at the “African inspired” course.

The competition is part of Player’s vision to raise funds for underprivileged children in South Africa. It will feature professional golfers, sports stars, celebrities and business leaders.

Cape Town-born Reto (26), who plays on the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour in the US, heads to Sun City as one of SA's first Olympic golfers under Player’s captaincy. She finished tied 16th at this year’s Olympics.

Porteous claimed his maiden European Tour title at the Joburg Open at Kensington Golf Club in January. The two will take to the fairways alongside the 2005 US Open champion, New Zealander Michael Campbell, who is now retired and featured on the PGA and European tours, where he won 15 titles.

Also present at the venue in North West will be erstwhile England and Manchester United striker Andy Cole. Retired Bafana Bafana and Kaizer Chiefs defender Jimmy Tau will be competing as well.

Other sporting luminaries who will tee off at the showdown include World Cup-winning Springbok captain John Smit. He joins former SA Rugby Union player Butch James, who will swing his golf clubs to display his talent on the fairways.

Player’s contest, now into its 17th year, is the country’s premier charitable sporting event and has helped the Player Foundation raise more than R800 million.

“The proceeds from the South African tournament will go to various selected charity beneficiaries, including Wildlands Conservation Trust, as well as Wings and Wishes,” said the 81-year-old Player.

The trust is a non-profit organisation working to conserve South Africa’s biodiversity. Wings and Wishes, which is also a non-profit concern, transports critically ill children to places where they can receive life-saving medical treatment.

“I’m honoured to be able to join so many other sportsmen and leaders in their field in the South African tournament, where we can hopefully raise more money for various charities,” he said.

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