By Michael Vlismas
The €1.3-million Joburg Open, co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and European Tour and to be played at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club from Thursday, will be followed by the Sanlam SA Amateur Championship at Silver Lakes Country Club in Pretoria.
In fact, on the Sunday that the new Joburg Open champion is crowned, the Sanlam SA Amateur Championship will tee off with its qualifying round.
Should a South African win the Joburg Open, as has been the case over the past five years, these two weeks would be the perfect transition from one generation of this country’s golfers to the next.
And some of the top amateurs competing the following week will also be in the Joburg Open field. South Africa’s top-ranked amateur Tristen Strydom is one of them, as is countryman Dylan Naidoo.
As Selwyn Nathan, the Executive Director of the Sunshine Tour, explains, this is another example of the solid structures that make South African golf so successful.
“The foundation of our success is about our structures. Our structures provide the opportunity for our golfers to move from one level to the next. The minute your foundation is right you have a good recipe.”
South Africa’s George Coetzee is back to defend his Joburg Open title in a field highlighted by the presence of new European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke. Richard Sterne is also back and attempting to become the first three-time winner of the Joburg Open following his triumphs in 2008 and 2013.
On the amateur front, Strydom heads into both tournaments having just represented South Africa in a test against Scotland at Leopard Creek, which the South Africans lost 15 ½ – 8 ½.
Last October he ended his junior career with a victory in the National Final of the Glacier Junior Series.