12 June 16:57
Mostert bags maiden win at Kit Kat Group Pro-Am
Dylan Mostert showed great mental composure and produced a bogey-free back nine for his maiden Sunshine Tour title on Sunday, as he won the KitKat Group ProAm at Irene Country Club by three strokes.
Mostert shot a fantastic 68 in the final round for a 17-under-par total of 199, three clear of MJ Viljoen (67), to become the fourth first-time winner on tour this season.
A bogey on the par-five second hole made for a nervous start for the left-handed Mostert, but he showed he was up for the challenge when he chipped in for birdie on the third in superb fashion on the undulating green.
Malcolm Mitchell went out in three-under 33 to make for an exciting challenge for Mostert, but the 23-year-old from Modderfontein Golf Club birdied the ninth and then produced a fabulous hybrid approach shot from under the trees, in the dirt, finding the middle of the 10th green and then sinking the putt for birdie for some breathing space.
Further birdies at the 12th and 17th holes meant he was partitioned by three shots from Viljoen, five clear of the dangerous Louis Albertse (70) and half-a-dozen strokes ahead of Kyle Barker (67) and Ryan van Velzen (71) by the end of the R1 million tournament.
Mitchell fell away with a horrible double-bogey at the 14th followed by bogeys on the next two holes as well, finishing on nine-under-par.
The pro-am competition was won by the team of Sunshine Tour professional MJ Viljoen and his amateur partner Japie Holtzhausen from Sasko.
The duo finished top of the leaderboard with 91 points, two ahead of the field. The teams of professional Madalitso Muthiya and amateur Nash Soni, and professional Hennie O’Kennedy and amateur Moe Mitha shared second place on 89 points.
- Michael Vlismas
11 June 18:49
Mostert making a meal of Kit Kat Group Pro-Am
Dylan Mostert produced a top-class display of putting for a second day in a row as he took a two-stroke lead on 13-under-par on Saturday heading into the final round of the KitKat Group ProAm at Irene Country Club.
Mostert was just a shot off the lead after a brilliant 65 in the first round, and on Saturday he followed up with a marvellous 66, leaving him a couple of shorts clear of Keagan Thomas on 11-under after rounds of 66 and 67.
First-round leader Ryan van Velzen (70) is in a tie for third on 10-under-par with Louis Albertse (68). The 23-year-old Mostert, a big-hitting former U.S. College golfer at Dalton State, said it was a hot putter which had made the difference for him so far at Irene CC.
“My mental game has been very good, I’m hitting it in the right spots and then putting well,” Mostert said.
“I just seemed to have had the knack of reading the greens right. “It feels like if you leave yourself in a bad spot on the green here, then it will be really tough.
The greens are undulating and some of the putts are very quick and can go sideways.
“I actually haven’t hit the ball that well off the tee, but I have missed in the right spots and then my play has been very good from there,” Mostert said.
The Modderfontein Golf Club representative now has a wonderful opportunity to claim his first Sunshine Tour title in Sunday’s final round, having finished second in the Blue Label Challenge at Gary Player Country Club last October.
“It takes consistency over all three rounds to be successful, so I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing,” Mostert said.
“It’s going to be important to stay calm and patient, and just let it happen.
“For tomorrow, I will try to stay neutral emotionally, just do what I’ve been doing. But I also need to keep pushing because you’re not going to win this tournament shooting level-par.
“So I’ll be trying to make birdies and just keep that putter rolling,” Mostert said.
MJ Viljoen and Madalitso Muthiya both fired wonderful six-under-par 66s on Saturday to join Malcolm Mitchell (69) and Ockie Strydom (68) in the tie for fifth place on nine-under.
- Michael Vlismas
SCORES: 131 - Dylan Mostert 65 66
133 - Keagan Thomas 66 67
134 - Louis Albertse 66 68, Ryan Van Velzen 64 70
135 - MJ Viljoen 69 66, Malcolm Mitchell 66 69, Madalitso Muthiya 69 66, Ockie Strydom 67 68 137 - Dean O'Riley 69 68, Jovan Rebula 69 68
138 - Kyle Barker 70 68, Herman Loubser 69 69, Estiaan Conradie 69 69
139 - Jason Smith 70 69, Jaco Prinsloo 70 69, Merrick Bremner 67 72, JJ Senekal 67 72
140 - Franklin Manchest 71 69, Dayne Moore 70 70, Rourke van der Spuy 69 71
141 - Rupert Kaminski 69 72, Albert Venter 76 65, Quintin Wilsnach 67 74, Combrinck Smit 70 71, Louis de Jager 72 69, Pieter Moolman 74 67, Jaco Van Zyl 71 70
142 - Michael Kok 71 71, Erhard Lambrechts 73 69, Stephen Ferreira 70 72, Trevor Fisher Jnr 73 69, Michael Palmer 73 69, Michael Hollick 70 72, Rhys West 69 73, Jean Hugo 70 72
143 - Keelan van Wyk 71 72, Heinrich Bruiners 73 70, Riekus Nortje 72 71, Richard Joubert 73 70, Wynand Dingle 71 72
10 June 20:31
Rookie Van Velzen leads the way at Kit Kat Group Pro-Am
Sunshine Tour rookie Ryan van Velzen roared to a marvellous eight-under-par 64 at Irene Country Club on Friday to claim a one-stroke lead after the first round of the KitKat Group ProAm, the R1 million tournament being held for the second time after flooding washed out the tournament in February.
The 21-year-old Van Velzen, playing just his fifth Sunshine Tour event, was particularly rampant on the par-fours, picking up six of his eight birdies there, to go with birdies on the par-five 10th and 17th holes.
It was also a bogey-free round for the Benoni golfer, who won his card from the Big Easy Tour in January.
"I’m really happy and I played really nicely, hitting the ball good and close and making the putts," Van Velzen said after racing past his previous best Tour round of 68.
"I drove the ball straight most of the day, I didn’t miss many fairways and my iron play was really good. I was surprised how good the greens were after all the rain and flooding earlier in the year.
"The course is in really good shape and you have to hit it straight off the tee because of all the trees. And the greens were pretty quick so you didn’t want to be on the wrong side of the hole," Van Velzen said.
The former GolfRSA squad member was on the right side of most things on Friday, including an extraordinary tussle for top spot on the leaderboard that he eventually won.
Dylan Mostert finished just one stroke back after a brilliant 65, converting a great start after he was three-under through five holes.
Merrick Bremner, Ockie Strydom and JJ Senekal made the early running with their five-under-par 67s, but endured the frustration of watching the leading duo sweep past them in the afternoon, as well as the in-form Louis Albertse, Malcolm Mitchell and Keagan Thomas, who all shot 66s.
Rourke van der Spuy, who drank from the champagne bottle a week ago when he won the SunBet Challenge, was also part of the bottleneck at the top as he started on the 10thtee and moved to four-under-par after his birdie on the third hole.
But the aggressive 32-year-old did not quite have the finish he intended as he then bogeyed the par-four sixth and made pars the rest of the way in to finish with a 69.
- Michael Vlismas
03 June 17:31
Hot putter carries Van Der Spuy to SunBet Challenge title
Rourke van der Spuy kept the door firmly closed on multiple Sunshine Tour winners Hennie Otto and Louis de Jager as another inspired putting display saw him shoot 69 in the final round of the SunBet Challenge to claim a three-stroke victory in the first event of the SunBet Series.
De Jager, who has won five times on tour, and Otto, who has a whopping 13 Sunshine Tour titles plus three on the European Tour, were Van der Spuy's company in the final three-ball, breathing down his neck just one stroke behind the 32-year-old.
But Van der Spuy was unfazed, leading from start to finish in the final round. He made an early statement with birdies on the second and third holes, and even back-to-back bogeys on six and seven did not derail him.
Birdies on the 10th and 11th holes put him back in command, and he sealed the deal with a fine approach into the middle of the 17th green and a 25-foot birdie putt.
"It was just about spot-on in terms of our planning. My coach Shaun Coetzee and I said we would go for a score in the 60s, on a tough course like this that felt like it would be good enough," a delighted Van der Spuy said.
"Something under-par was our target and I'm very proud to have broken 70. I had control of my game, even when Louis went on a good run on the back nine. That birdie on 17 was my most clutch putt of the day.
"I've been very good on the greens all week and my only slip-up was a three-putt on seven, but that was a very long putt.
"I've always thought, why not lead and be the frontrunner, even one shot counts at the end of the day," Van der Spuy said.
It's been four years between celebrations for the Durban Country Club golfer, whose previous Sunshine Tour wins were at the Mopani Redpath Zambia Open in 2018 and the Fish River Sun Challenge in 2015.
Making the occasion even more special was to be able to beat Otto, who finished in a tie for third, four shots back, after a level-par 72 on Friday.
"Playing with Hennie was a wonderful feeling because growing up, and when I started at the bottom of the Sunshine Tour, I looked up to him as a mentor. He is such an accomplished and successful golfer, and Louis as well. Today I realised some childhood dreams," Van der Spuy said.
Ockie Strydom fired a 68, the low round of the day, to finish in a tie for fifth on three-under-par with JJ Senekal (71) and the in-form Louis Albertse (72).
De Jager finished in second place on his own, on five-under-par, after making 71 in the final round. But he did give Van der Spuy some cause for concern on the back nine as he collected three birdies.
But not even that could distract Van der Spuy from his goal.
- Michael Vlismas
208 - Rourke van der Spuy 68 71 69
211 - Louis de Jager 72 68 71
212 - Jaco Prinsloo 70 71 71, Hennie Otto 71 69 72
213 - Ockie Strydom 74 71 68, JJ Senekal 73 69 71, Louis Albertse 71 70 72
214 - Jaco Van Zyl 74 70 70
215 - Jacques P de Villiers 70 73 72, Alex Haindl 71 71 73, Kyle Barker 70 70 75
216 - Dylan Mostert 75 68 73, Lyle Rowe 70 73 73, Stefan Wears-Taylor 72 69 75
217 - Martin Rohwer 73 72 72, Ryan Van Velzen 73 74 70, Joe Long 75 72 70, Dan Erickson 71 71 75, Harry Konig 69 72 76, Dylan Naidoo 74 74 69
218 - Keagan Thomas 73 71 74, Hennie O'Kennedy 75 73 70
02 June 18:12
Confident Van Der Spuy ready for SunBet Challenge final round
It took a little while for Rourke van der Spuy to warm up, but he was loving the greens on the back nine as he shot a one-under-par 71 on Thursday to claim a one-stroke lead after the second round of the SunBet Challenge hosted by Sun City at Gary Player Country Club.
The 32-year-old Van der Spuy will be heading into Friday’s final round on five-under-par for the tournament, one clear of a strong quartet of contenders in Hennie Otto (69), Louis de Jager (68), Callum Mowat (73) and Kyle Barker (70).
Van der Spuy went into the second round in second place, one shot behind Mowat, and, teeing off at 8am, he made seven straight pars before a double-bogey at the par-four eighth was a frustrating blow.
“The big thing about teeing off early in the morning at Sun City is the considerable temperature difference compared to later in the day,” Van der Spuy said.
“The sun rises at 7am but it only really gets warm around 9-10 o’clock. It just takes a while for the body to warm up and get loose, and of course the ball goes much further when it’s warmer.
“So it’s just a case of getting through the first nine holes and I was just pleased to be bogey-free after seven holes, but then the double-bogey six was a punch in the gut,” Van der Spuy said.
But as the sun rose above the Pilanesberg mountains and warmed both the course and the competitors, the Durban-born golfer warmed to his task with back-to-back birdies around the turn and then two more sandwiching a bogey at the 15th.
“I was very happy to recover with those two birdies straight after the double-drop and I was definitely more comfortable on the back nine,” Van der Spuy said.
“It was also a good day on the greens, I converted a few outside chances to keep the round going. Credit to my caddy, Jacob Lekgotho, who I called in three times on the back nine and he was spot-on with his lines.
“Jakes has been the caddy master at Sun City so he’s as comfortable around Gary Player Country Club as I am and those putts were real momentum-keepers,” Van der Spuy said.
The Durban Country Club representative won on his rookie year on tour at the 2015 Fish River Sun Challenge and then again, three years later, at the Mopani Redpath Zambia Open. But as surely as the years have passed, so too has Van der Spuy’s game evolved and he said the final round will be about setting and achieving a target he and his coach set for himself.
“We will see how everyone finishes and then create a game-plan from there. The key is we will be looking at a score and not the rest of the field.
“It’s been an 18-month process and it’s something I now trust to get the job done in a final round. As you mature and go through the ups-and-downs of a golf career, your game evolves as you do as a person.
“I’m definitely a different player now than I was when I won those tournaments three years apart. But I trust the golfer I am,” Van der Spuy said.
The experienced duo of Otto and De Jager were both in fine form on Thursday, having 11 birdies between them, and they will surely put Van der Spuy to the test in Friday’s final round.
01 June 19:34
Mowat finds his inspiration in SunBet Challenge
Callum Mowat began with two birdies and just continued on that high as he shot a 67 to lead the SunBet Challenge hosted by Sun City after the first round on Wednesday, saying afterwards it was a round that “made me feel good about me”.
Mowat’s five-under-par score included just one bogey on the testing Gary Player Country Club layout and he came home in three-under 33. That gave him a one-stroke lead over Rourke van der Spuy on four-under, while MJ Viljoen and Harry Konig were tied for third after shooting 69s.
“I’ve been inside a deep hole and I needed to figure out how I felt about myself,” Mowat said. “It was nice to feel I belong out here and I am competitive, it was good to feel good about myself and where my game is trending. It made me feel good about me.”
“I just tried to be aggressive, just let fly and stop trying to steer the ball around, let it run! The demanding thing about Gary Player Country Club is off the tee, but I was more aggressive than usual.”
“That meant I could hit a lot more greens with shorter irons. My game-plan was to just get as far as possible off the tee, it worked well and then I just stuck to the plan,” the 30-year-old Mowat said. The Glendower golfer had not broken 70 yet in four rounds this season at the FBC Zimbabwe Open and the Sishen Classic. The 27-year-old Viljoen looked like catching Mowat as he raced to four-under through 14 holes, but a weak finish saw him drop a shot at the par-four 18th to finish two back on three-under.
Van der Spuy started his round with eight pars, but he caught fire around the turn with birdies on the ninth and 10th holes, and he picked up further shots on the 13th and 17th holes in a bogey-free round.
Konig, hailing from Devon in England, is in his first season on the Sunshine Tour and he also dropped just one shot, making a four on the par-three 16th, in his 69.
- Michael Vlismas
29 May 16:06
Germishuys mines a maiden win in Sishen Classic
Deon Germishuys has given everything on a journey that led to him winning his maiden Sunshine Tour title in the Sishen Classic at the Sishen Golf and Country Club on Sunday.
And this week, he even sacrificed his car.
The 23-year-old was in a class of his own in Sunday’s final round as he produced some of the finest ball-striking under pressure to close with a 64 and win by six shots on 17 under par. Louis de Jager took second place on 11 under with a final round of 67.
The victory by Germishuys makes it a hat-trick of first-time winners on the Sunshine Tour in the first three tournaments of the new season after the victories of Herman Loubser and Albert Venter.
“It’s an emotional first win for me because I’ve worked so hard for everyone who has supported me. I’m really glad that I got it over the line,” said Germishuys, who had to break his car window on the Saturday morning of this tournament just to get his clubs out after losings his car keys.
“I lost my car keys on Friday, so on Saturday morning I had to break my car window to get my clubs. I’m leaving my car here and driving back with a friend because I’m flying to Prague on Monday evening for a tournament, so my fiancé will come and collect my car for me,” said Germishuys.
The young star has come close to breaking through on the Sunshine Tour on several occasions, and he used those experiences in the final round.
“I had nothing to lose. I’ve been in contention a couple of times and I kind of knew what to do. I thought if I could just go three under or four under I would be happy. And I managed to go eight under. When I could attack the flags I did so, and when I had to go for the middle of the green I did that too, and luckily I holed a couple of big putts.
”The biggest of those was a monstrous 75-footer on the 16th green for birdie.
“I don’t think I’ve hit the ball as well as I have under this kind of pressure. We pitched the ball on every single spot on the green where my caddie Rasta and I wanted to.
”Apart from a unique iron ore trophy from Anglo American and Kumba Iron Ore, Germishuys also won his weight in braai meat from one of the local sponsors, Best Food Forever.
Asked during the prizegiving presentation how much he weighs, Germishuys responded, “If it’s for the braai meat, then I weigh 200 kilograms.”
- Michael Vlismas
28 May 18:35
A Sishen Classic win is worth its weight in braai meat
It is only in the Kalahari where the champion golfer in the Sishen Classic will win his weight in braai meat.
That’s the added incentive that will be on offer when Sunday’s final round of this Sunshine Tour event tees off with Trevor Fisher Jnr. leading by a shot over the trio of Hennie O’Kennedy, Deon Germishuys and Jaco Ahlers.
The braai meat, courtesy of Best Food Forever, will certainly be a welcome addition for Fisher Jnr.
But a first Sunshine Tour victory since 2014 will be of far greater value to him.
Such is his singular determination to end this win drought that after his third-round 70 in windy conditions at the Sishen Golf and Country Club on Saturday to lead on 10 under par, Fisher Jnr. didn’t even want to speak about his position for fear of losing focus.
But while Fisher Jnr. is looking to finally chalk up Sunshine Tour victory number 10 on Sunday, in the trio behind him are two golfers who are pushing hard for their maiden titles on the Tour in O’Kennedy and Germishuys.
O’Kennedy defied the tricky conditions with a third round of 67 that included a run of five consecutive birdies on the back nine.
He’s been building to this moment with a strong start to the new season that has included finishes of fourth in the Lombard Insurance Classic and ninth in the FBC Zimbabwe Open.
"I’m very pleased to have put myself in a good position. I had a feeling that if the conditions got a little tougher like they did, then the leaders would come to you and you just needed to play good golf to get closer to them as well," said O’Kennedy.
"The five consecutive birdies were just wonderful. I actually hit the ball better on the front nine but couldn’t make any putts. But it’s got me in a great position.
"All of these guys out here play great golf week in and week out, and we still have 18 holes left so there is a lot to do."
O’Kennedy certainly enjoys this golf course and finished seventh here in the 2021 Vodacom Origins of Golf.
And it's actually his previous experience of falling just short of winning that motivates him.
"That has just made me a better golfer because I never want that to ever happen to me again, so it made me work even harder."
Germishuys will be equally determined to break through after a number of top finishes, most notably his tied fifth finish in the 2021/22 season-ending Tour Championship.
And Ahlers brings a world of experience that saw him recently claim his 10th Sunshine Tour title in April’s Stella Artois Players Championship. - Michael Vlismas
27 May 19:04
Impressive Albertse chasing Sishen Classic glory
Louis Albertse continued his impressive form this season as he claimed a one-stroke lead heading into the weekend of the Sishen Classic at the Kalahari Country Club.
Albertse, who has finished in the top 10 in his last two tournaments, added a second consecutive 67 to top the leaderboard on 10 under par.
He is one stroke clear of Pieter Moolman, who signed for a second round of 69 on Friday. The experienced duo of Trevor Fisher Jnr. and Jacques Blaauw are two shots off the lead following respective second rounds of 66 and 68.
Albertse has started the new Sunshine Tour season in superb form with a finish of ninth in the Lombard Insurance Classic and then second in the FBC Zimbabwe Open. And patience has been the backbone to his success this season.
"I've been very patient with my own game and trying to learn what I do well and don't do well. I've tried to stay very patient throughout my round so that I make as few mistakes as possible. I feel like I've done that quite well. If I don't like a tee shot, then I'll hit an iron and just make sure I'm in play. So patience has been the biggest reason for my form," said Albertse.
He needed some of that patience on a Friday when his solid putting form wasn't altogether there.
"These two days were totally different. I had 23 putts in the first round and 32 putts in the second round, with the same score. But I'm very happy with how I managed myself because the second round was frustrating considering how well I was hitting the ball. All in all, I'm proud of myself for how I've managed my game."
Behind him, Moolman continued to keep himself in contention.
"I didn't give myself enough opportunities in the second round, but that's what golf is about. You’re never going to have a perfect round. If you can fight and still shoot under par, then that's a good round."
- Michael Vlismas
26 May 20:38
Englishman Bawden loving his Kalahari experience
It’s only his third tournament in South Africa, and Englishman Bradley Bawden has already fallen in love with the country and the Sunshine Tour, and it showed as he shared a four-way tie for the lead after Thursday’s first round of the Sishen Classic at the Kalahari Country Club.
Bawden opened with a bogey-free six-under-par 66 to share the lead with South Africa’s Pieter Moolman, Ockie Strydom and Deon Germishuys.
Strydom is a previous winner on this golf course in the 2019 Vodacom Origins of Golf.
They are one stroke clear of the in-form Louis Albertse, who has top-10s in his previous two tournaments, Malcolm Mitchell and Danie van Niekerk.
“It’s my first time here, and this golf course is really nice,” said Bawden, who came through the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School and is playing in only his third tournament on the Tour.
“I’m still very fresh in South Africa and enjoying it. The Sunshine Tour is a growing tour, and I see a lot of opportunities out here. The schedule is great, and you play a lot of good golf courses, so I just feel you’re going to improve out here. That’s why I decided to come over and play,” said the Essex-based golfer.
And he certainly enjoyed his first look at this golf course.
“You’ve got to hit the ball well, and the greens are really rolling nicely. It’s not a course where you just tee it up and rip it down there. You’ve got to think where you’re going to leave the ball and have to put it in the right spots otherwise you’ll be in trouble. It’s nice to play a course where you have to use your brain.”
Moolman was happy with his start on a golf course that has always challenged him.
“I’ve always struggled here. On this course you can hit good shots and get some bad luck. But I think most of my shots that were a bit off still worked out fine, so that was a big help,” he said.
- Michael Vlismas
26 May 13:48