Thabang SimonÂs 2011 season is indicative of the benefit of the Sunshine Big Easy Tour presented by Stonehage: a win at ERPM golf club last week took him to the top of the tourÂs Order of Merit.
The new tour is named after three-time major winner Ernie Els in recognition of his continued commitment to the development of the game in South Africa.
The circuit of 10 R100,000 Big Easy Tour events will be capped by a R250,000 Tour Championship.
They offer a lifeline to South-African-based players during the Sunshine TourÂs quiet months, providing earnings and valuable tournament experience.
Players who received their cards at the Sunshine Tour 2011 Qualifying School played in Bloemfontein last year, and the top 30 at the Vusi Ngubeni Strokeplay played in Johannesburg in January are eligible to play on the tour, as are those who finished from 71st to 150th on the 2010 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit.
Simon opened the 2011 Sunshine Tour season with a share of 51st place at the Africa Open, netting himself R38,060, but has only earned a further R19,269 from the nine further Sunshine Tour events he has played this year.
He won R14,000 playing at ERPM Golf Club last week, an amount which took his season earnings on the Big Easy Tour to R31,443,92.
Thus far on the main tour he has earned R55,349.00 and is 74th on the Sunshine TourÂs Order of Merit, yet his total earnings come in at R86,792.92.
He has a way to go before he matches his best-ever year on the Sunshine Tour Â he made R165,000 in 2008 Â but the year is just half done, and a professional victory did his confidence the world of good.
The Big Easy Tour supports players with the move from amateur to pro, but has a massive underlying role in its support of current professional golfers building their careers.
South African golf has developed a strong pool of players to draw from and has the depth of skill to field 10 players in the Open Championship this year.
The Sunshine Tour provides a platform to international golf, while the Big Easy Tour provides a platform to local golf. SimonÂs 2011 season earnings are indicative of the benefit of these symbiotic tours.