13th February 2018 | Sunshine Tour
Calderon latest young gun to win on Sunshine Tour
The 2017-18 season of the Sunshine Tour seems to have been the year of the youngster, with Matias Calderon’s one-shot victory over Combrinck Smit at last week’s Eye of Africa PGA Championship making it in nine wins for players under 30 this season.
The youngest among the nine players is Hennie du Plessis, who won his maiden title on his 21st birthday in the Vodacom Origins of Golf-Sishen. It took a fourth play-off hole for Du Plessis to put aside Ockie Strydom in the Kalahari.
MJ Viljoen was another first-time winner this season. At 22, Viljoen clinched the Sun Fish River Sun Challenge while JC Ritchie’s win at the season-opening Zimbabwe Open came when he was just 23 years old. Calderon is 24 and turned professional in November of 2016.
Since then, the young Chilean won his first professional title just a week after he turned professional when he clinched the Polo Club Open in the Tour del Pacifico circuit in December of 2016. He followed that up with the Cachagua Open victory early in January of 2017 before bagging the Abierto de Santa Augusta de Quintay Open. With four titles from two Tours, Calderon has proven he’s a player to watch.
Riekus Nortje and Dylan Frittelli, at 26, come behind Calderon in the age stakes, with a win at the Redpath Mopani Zambia Open for Nortje, while Frittelli’s victory in the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open was his first on the Sunshine Tour, but his second of the season, having won the Lyoness Open powered by ORGANIC+ on the European circuit.
And then there was Jaco Prinsloo who won Vodacom Origins of Golf Final at Simola at the age of 27 while Tyrone Ryan won Sun Board Walk Challenge at the same age. Jared Harvey won Vodacom Origins-Zimbali aged 28. If one also considers the last two seasons when players like Brandon Stone who won the BMW SA Open at 22, Jacques Kruyswijk (Cape Town Open at 24), and Haydn Porteous (Joburg Open at 21), it is almost easy to notice the trend of young players really staking their claim on the Sunshine Tour.
Other players who have won important titles on the Sunshine Tour and abroad, and who are still in that category, include Brandon Grace, Dean Burmester, Erik van Rooyen and Zander Lombard. With this picture in view, it is easy to see that the future of the Sunshine Tour is indeed bright.