With R10-million to be divided up, the stakes are high. That’s the bottom line as one of the biggest weeks on the Sunshine Tour schedule dawns when the Investec Cup tees off at Millvale Private Retreat on Wednesday.
The players will be doing battle for the Investec Cup Bonus Pool of R10-million and the winner’s share of R4-million. With last place taking home R200,000, the 16 who have come out on top of the Chase to the Investec Cup know that there is a tidy little sum of money over and above their regular winnings from the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit.
While Dean Burmester’s dominance of the year-long chase since his victory in the very first event of the chase back in April last year in Zimbabwe has been the main talking point about the event, the addition of a stake of R250,000 for the person who comes out tops in the four rounds at Millvale has added some extra spice to the action.
And with Charl Schwartzel electing to not return to South Africa this year to play in the event, Christiaan Bezuidenhout breathed a sigh of relief at making the elite field after missing cuts at the Tshwane Open and the Eye of Africa PGA Championship.
Burmester’s situation in the Investec Cup is enviable: He has won four of the 17 tournaments he played, finished inside the top 10 a further seven times, been inside the top 20 three more times, and besides two missed cuts last August, his worst finish was a share of 31st in January’s Joburg Open.
That’s why his lead is unassailable.
The question is whether he can turn up with that kind of game for one more week after he showed no signs of slowing down, only failing narrowly to win the last two tournaments he played. He lost to an eagle on the last hole by George Coetzee in the Dimension Data Pro-Am, and in a play-off to Jaco van Zyl in the Eye of Africa PGA Championship.
Both of those players are in the field, but Burmester’s closest pursuer is BMW South African Open champion Brandon Stone. A win at Millvale for Stone will assure him of the R1.25-million for second place as well as the additional R250,000 for coming first in the event – and that’s incentive enough for him to give it his all.
There are similar equations for the rest of the players, all the way down to Bezuidenhout in 16th position.
The message for all 16 players, then, is simple: Don’t leave anything out there!