Co-sanctioned the Sunshine Big Easy Tour and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Golf Tour, the event, which marks MENA Golf Tour’s first foray into South Africa, will see leading players from both the tours pit their skills against each other for a share of the R500,000 prize fund in addition to earning world ranking points.
Lawrence, a 19-year-old South African prodigy, who in 2015 became the youngest to win the MENA Golf Tour’s Order of Merit title, has already racked up two top-five finishes in three events he played this season, but will need a strong finish, if not victory, to recover lost ground after missing a couple of tournaments.
The Mpumalanga-born teenager announced his arrival on the big stage by winning the Ras Al Khaimah Classic in November 2015 in a field that featured European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke, who is also the MENA Golf Tour patron.
The two-time South African amateur champion has been on a roll ever since and will be joined by five other MENA Golf Tour champions, including England’s Lee Corfield, a four-time winner, and an in-form Antonio Costa of Chile, who took the MahaSamutr Masters, sponsored by PACE Development Corporation, by a good six shots at Banyan Golf Club in Hua Hin, Thailand, in May.
Other MENA Golf Tour notables in the 120-player field include Scotland’s Paul Doherty and the English duo of Scott Campbell and Luke Joy. They will up against a strong Big Easy Tour contingent that will looking to make inroads into new territory.
Spearheading the home challenge will be Jason Viljoen, who currently leads the Big Easy Tour Order of Merit after his second-place finish in the recent Big Easy Tour Observatory event.
Thanda Mavundla, Hennie du Plessis, Jeff Inglis and Mark Murless, who featured among the top-five at the Observatory, are also represented in the field, which includes six amateurs, including five from South Africa, and Benjamin David of England. They will test the waters on the professional circuit at Zwartkop Golf Club.
Founded in 1933, Zwartkop Country Club has hosted many significant professional events over the years, including the SA Open, the Sunshine Tour’s ICL International and a memorable exhibition game between Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player during the 60’s.
Some of the greatest names in golf to have walked the fairways includes Sam Snead, Peter Thompson and Bobby Locke to Gary Player, Seve Ballesteros, Lee Trevino, Nick Faldo, Ernie Els, Nick Price and Retief Goosen.
The South to East Challenge will be decides over 54 holes of strokeplay with leading 50 professionals and ties making into the final round after the cut which will be made after round two.