Africa Open moves into sixth year

From left: Tournament chairman Khaya Ngcula, European Tour tournament director David Williams, Ms Vuyo Zitumane, chairperson of the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency and Grant Wilson, chief operating officer of the Sunshine Tour

The Africa Open Golf Challenge got underway on Thursday with Ms Vuyo Zitumane, chairperson of the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency, hitting the ceremonial first tee shot at East London Golf Club.

The tournament is the second event in two weeks co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and the European Tour in South Africa, and one of six such events played in the country – making up the highest number on European Tour events in a single country.

The tournament moved into its sixth year, after its humble beginnings in 2008 at the Fish River Sun Country Club where a young Shaun Norris triumphed in windy conditions.

In its second year, it moved to its present home at the East London course, and two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen won by a single stroke from a group of four players.

In 2010, Charl Schwartzel made a charge in the final round with a six-under-par 67 to take the title away from Thomas Aiken, and then Louis Oosthuizen won in 2011 in a play-off from Chris Wood and Manuel Quiros.

Oosthuizen went on to defend his title in 2012, racing to 27-under-par in windless conditions to earn a two-stroke victory over Tjaart van der Walt.

The Buffalo City leadership committed itself to the tournament in the long term, which means the Sunshine Tour and the European Tour players will be returning to East London in 2014 and beyond.

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