He missed out on playing in the Investec Cup by a few spots last year, so Andrew Curlewis was thrilled to get the call on Monday to tell him he was in the field for this year’s tournament.
The R1-million tournament gets underway at Millvale Private Retreat on March 20, where the first two rounds will be played, and will wrap up on the Lost City at Sun City for the final two rounds on the weekend.
In the field are the top 30 available players after a year-long quest for points in all the regular-season Sunshine Tour events in the Chase to the Investec Cup, beginning with the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open last April and ending at the Tshwane Open.
After England’s Andy Sullivan withdrew overnight after his second place in the European Tour event in Morocco, Curlewis was included in the field.
“The tournament is the talk of all the players on the Sunshine Tour,” he said. “It’s great what Investec have created with the Chase to the Investec Cup, and I also hear the players are treated like royalty during the week.”
Curlewis won twice in the space of three weeks on last year’s Sunshine Tour after waiting for six years since his maiden victory way back in 2007. That gave him his best-ever finish on the Order of Merit in 21st position. He’s had a quiet start to 2014, with just one finish in the money.
He is also eligible for a share of the lucrative Bonus Pool, which has been doubled this year to R10-million, to be shared by those players in the field who finished inside the top 30 after the Tshwane Open. The winner will take home 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 win R50,000.
“Of course it's good to be part of the big money,” said Curlewis, “but it’s also important to me to be part of the tournament – to get in on the action on an event which is becoming very important on the Sunshine Tour.”
For the rest of the players who made it into the Investec Cup, the task is to try to overhaul leader Ross Fisher of England, who gathered 1,819 points in the four events he played.
With 1,500 points for the winner of this season-ending tournament, going down to 180 for 30th spot, the players inside the top 10 are most likely to pull off the big Bonus Pool windfall. But some of those players will need poor performances from others inside that elite top-10 to get that right.