Thomas Aiken is proof that the Sunshine Tour can proclaim, “It begins here” – it’s a tour that has launched the careers of some of golf’s greatest champions.
And this could well be the case for the careers of any one of the junior golfers who will tee it up in Sunday’s Sunshine Tour-hosted tournament on the Glacier by Sanlam Junior Series at the De Zalze Winelands Golf Estate.
The ninth tournament on this year’s series brings the popular junior circuit back to the Western Cape for the first time since April, and to a golf course that has hosted Sunshine Tour events in the past.
And the Sunshine Tour’s sponsorship of a tournament on the nationwide series is a direct result of how a strong junior circuit in South Africa has been the foundation upon which the country’s leading players have built their professional careers.
“It doesn’t seem that long ago when I was being driven by my parents to junior tournaments all over the country, playing against Charl (Schwartzel), Louis (Oosthuizen) and Richard (Sterne),” Aiken, winner of seven tournaments on the Sunshine Tour and two on the European Tour, has said of the strength of South Africa’s junior golf.
“That system played such a big part in my success as a golfer. We were very fortunate to have had a great junior programme in place so we could compete against each other on a regular basis.
“Without competition you can’t improve, and you need that experience under pressure to become a better golfer. Playing in those junior events, we could push each other to the next level.
“It’s important for our juniors to have a platform like the Glacier Junior Series where they can compete. And it’s vital for our golf so that we can keep producing top golfers on the international stage.”
The winners in each of the A, B and C Divisions on the series qualify for the National Final later this year. The winner here qualifies for an all-expenses paid trip to compete against some of the world’s top juniors in the Orange Bowl Junior Invitational in America.