- The Virtual Sunshine Tour Knockout got off to a flying start on Saturday with rookie Nikhil Rama rampant.
- The event features a total of eight golfers from the Sunshine Tour and Sunshine Ladies Tour competing in a knockout format.
- It takes place at Soweto Country Club and is the first of its kind in professional golf in South Africa.
The Virtual Sunshine Tour (VST) Knockout got underway on Saturday and rookie Nikhil Rama was in rampant form as his three-under-par score saw him qualify for the semi-finals with the lowest score in the field.
The virtual knockout tournament - powered by the Gauteng Provincial Government and the first of its kind in professional golf in South Africa - features a total of eight golfers from the Sunshine Tour and Sunshine Ladies Tour competing against each other in a knockout format at Soweto Country Club, and is being streamed live on YouTube, Facebook and Twitch.
The first match saw Dwayne Basson take on Thabiso Ngcobo in a thrilling encounter where the winner would be decided in sudden death. Both players finished at two-under-par in regulation but a birdie on the fourth playoff hole earned Basson the first spot in the semi-finals.
"It went a lot better than expected," said Basson after his victory, "and definitely didn't expect the game to get my heart going a little there towards the end. But it was nice to finish the way I did, with those few birdies in those last few holes. So, I'm looking forward to tomorrow’s semi-finals."
Playing in the second match of the day, rookie Rama, claimed a comfortable six-stroke victory over Dylan Mostert, a rookie himself on Tour. Rama carded a three-under-par round, the lowest score of the day.
"It feels awesome to win my first match of the knockout," he said, "it's a first Sunshine Tour event for me. The thing I mostly enjoyed today was that feeling of bringing back tournament nerves again. Started off a bit nervous but then got it together and the nerves settled. Started to get the game back again. If I win, I don’t think it will be as big of a victory as the main Sunshine Tour win but it will be up there for me to remember."
Oliver Bekker also claimed a hard-fought win against Sunshine Ladies Tour pro, Cassandra Hall. His two-over-par score was enough to earn him a four-shot victory and a spot in the semis. “It was really exciting, said Bekker.
"There was a little bit more pressure though because there's a little bit more than just pride on the line; to try and get into the next stage. It was good. I didn't play my best but luckily it was good enough. Looking forward to tomorrow."
The final spot in the semi-finals went to Heinrich Bruiners whose level-par finished ensured he claims victory in his second appearance on the Virtual Sunshine Tour. He lost to Andre Nel the first virtual challenge of this series.
"They say level-par is always good," Bruiners declared after his victory over another Sunshine Ladies Tour player, Lejan Lewthwaite. "I'm just happy that I pulled it through. Lejan played some good golf but I was lucky because I have a PlayStation at home. She probably would have beaten me if she had more practice, I got lucky today.
"I'm going to bring my A-game tomorrow. Bekker needs to be prepared because I'm going to bring the heat."
33 - Nikhil Rama
34 - Dwayne Basson
36 - Heinrich Bruiners
37 - Oliver Bekker
34 - Thabiso Ngcobo
38 - Lejan Lewthwaite
39 - Dylan Mostert
41 - Casandra Hall
- Sunshine Tour