As South African professional golf prepares to enter its lucrative summer swing, former South African Open champion James Kingston has called on the public to support the countryÂs young stars.
In the next six weeks, this countryÂs fairways will host three tournaments co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and the European Tour in the SA Open, Nelson Mandela Championship and Alfred Dunhill Championship; a major charity tournament in the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola; the Nedbank Golf Challenge; and a new event in the Cape Town Open.
ItÂs that time of the year when big money meets big opportunities for Sunshine Tour professionals.
Last year, Garth Mulroy won the Alfred Dunhill Championship and it played a major role in carrying him to the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit title.
Also last year, Hennie Otto won the South African Open and he remains a strong presence on the European Tour as a result.
Going back to 2010, a certain Branden Grace won the Coca-Cola Charity Championship, hosted by Gary Player, in November. He returns this November as a major star on the European Tour.
ItÂs a breakthrough time for South AfricaÂs professionals, and represents exactly the kind of spark the Sunshine Tour can give to a young pros career.
ÂWe all put a lot of pressure on ourselves to play well in these big events. Obviously, thatÂs where everybody makes good money,Â Trevor Fisher Jnr said from this weekÂs Nedbank Affinity Cup at Sun City, which is where most of this countryÂs professionals are fine-tuning their games for the summer. Fisher is currently fifth on the Sunshine TourÂs Order of Merit, and knows a good finish or even a win over the next few weeks could see him win the moneylist. That opens up exemptions into some of the biggest tournaments in world golf, such as the Open Championship, the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, the World Golf Championship events of the Cadillac Championship and the HSBC Champions, and The Memorial tournament on the PGA Tour.
ÂIÂm lying nicely on the Order of Merit, so hopefully I can finish off the season well,Â said Fisher.
And heÂs precisely the kind of player Kingston would like to see South African golf fans support over the next few weeks.
ÂIt would be nice to see people supporting our young stars like they do the name players, and coming to some of the tournaments like they go to the Nedbank Golf Challenge. What about our rising stars? TheyÂre the next generation and need that support.Â
By Michael Vlismas