And he will be playing for a record prize fund too: In celebration of one of the most popular tournaments on the Sunshine Tour, Dimension Data executive chairman Jeremy Ord has boosted the prize fund of the tournament by R500,000 to a total of R4,5-million – making it the richest tournament on the Sunshine Tour outside the events co-sanctioned by the European Tour.
Nick Price won it consecutively in 1997 and 1998 after Mark McNulty’s triumph in the inaugural tournament in 1996, while Fichardt’s first victory came in 2004 when the tournament was still played at Sun City on the Gary Player Country Club and Lost City courses.
Fichardt then went on to take the 2010 title when the tournament first moved to Fancourt, carding rounds of 66-68-71-68 on the Outeniqua, Montagu and The Links courses to hold off the man who was soon to become Open champion, Louis Oosthuizen, by one stroke.
Oosthuizen is one of five players who have won the Dimension Data Pro-Am and have also won major championships: Price himself won the local event after his three majors – the 1992 PGA Championship, and then the Open and the PGA in 1994.
Darren Clarke won the 2001 Dimension Data Pro-Am, and went on to win the 2011 Open Championship. Retief Goosen took the local title in 2002, in between his 2001 and 2004 US Open triumphs. Trevor Immelman won the 2003 Sun City title, five years ahead of his 2008 Green Jacket in the Masters. And Oosthuizen took the Dimension Data Pro-Am title in 2007, a year during which he won three Sunshine Tour titles.
Fichardt’s 2010 title will be remembered for his approach to the par-five 18th, which set up the birdie opportunity for his victory. He launched a 239-yard three-iron over some intervening trees and the water surrounding the 18th green. “It was not quite a hybrid, but a very hard three-iron,” he said. “Under the circumstances, I felt a hard three-iron was appropriate, and I hit it very hard. I was just glad it wasn’t short.”
He was just through the green for two, and, after Oosthuizen had birdied it, Fichardt knew a good up-and-down was all he needed.
This year’s tournament gets underway with the pre-qualifying round on Tuesday 17 February, played on the Montagu course. The main event gets underway on Thursday 19 February.