Thomas Aiken’s Africa Open victory at the weekend has given him a boost in the Chase to the Investec Cup standings with only two more tournaments ahead of the final to be played from March 23.
And he will be playing in this week’s Dimension Data Pro-Am at Fancourt, which has a total of 6,500 points for the top 65 players and those tying on that score who make the cut, with 580 points for the winner.
Aiken was in 28th position in the Chase to the Investec Cup standings ahead of the Africa Open and found himself in second position behind Charl Schwartzel after his 900-point haul for his East London Golf Club triumph.
He earned those 900 points because of the high number of Investec Cup points available in tournaments co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and the European Tour in the year-long build-up to the Investec Cup tournament which climaxes the season from March 20-23.
The points allocated to each event are dependent on the prize fund and the size of the tournament, and events co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and the European Tour – such as the Africa Open – have 900 points for the winner.
Qualification for the 30 places in the final event of the Chase to the Investec Cup is determined through a points system that incorporates all the regular-season Sunshine Tour events, beginning with the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open last April and ending at the Tshwane Open in March.
After the resounding success of the inaugural Chase to the Investec Cup series in 2013, the 2013-14 series will now feature a lucrative bonus pool of R10-million, double that of 2013. The winner of the 2014 Chase to the Investec Cup will win R3.5-million, with the second-place finisher winning R950,000, and third R700,000, whilst 30th spot in the bonus pool pay-out rankings will take home R50,000.
Aiken is just 49 points behind Schwartzel, so 39th or better in the Dimension Data Pro-Am will put him in the lead ahead of the Tshwane Open, during which 10,000 points are up for grabs, with 900 for the winner.
While Schwartzel is quite like to be involved in the Arnold Palmer Invitational on the PGA Tour at the same time as the Investec Cup, there is no European Tour event scheduled for that week, so many of the European Tour players inside the top 30 are likely come to South Africa for a shot at a share of the R10-million bonus pool.
Last week, Justin Harding was in 30th spot with Martin du Toit in 31st and out of the Investec Cup. This week, Andrew Curlewis has slipped from 24th to 30th with 705.92 points. In 31st, just 12 points behind Curlewis, is Jared Harvey.
They will be looking for good performances in George this week and in Pretoria next week to make sure they get to play for a share of the bonus pool.