Van Zyl, Fichardt set for Investec Cup duel

Jaco van Zyl and Darren Fichardt will fight it out for the R2-million first prize in the Chase to the Investec Cup Bonus Pool when the Investec Cup tournament gets underway at Millvale Private Retreat on Thursday.

The two most consistently successful players on the Sunshine Tour this year are the only two players remaining in the field of 30 who can take the lion’s share of the R5-million Bonus Pool – their nearest challenger is Trevor Fisher Jnr, who has the merest of mathematical chances of creeping into second place, but Van Zyl would have to finish 30th in the tournament and Fichardt 29th or 30th for that to happen.

The Investec Bonus Pool will see R2-million going to the winner, while 30th place will pick up R40,000. The Chase to the Investec Cup started with last October’s BMG Classic and ended with the Telkom PGA Championship when the top 30 available players on the Investec Bonus Pool ranking qualified for the season-ending Investec Cup.

And those 30 players will play for a purse of R1-million at Millvale, at Rustenburg Golf Club for the second round, and at the Lost City at Sun City for the final two rounds at the weekend.

Fichardt, who leads the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit on R4.178-million, has his victory in the Africa Open and his runner-up finish in the Tshwane Open to thanks for his position. Those were both events co-sanctioned by the European Tour, and he cemented his second place on the Chase to the Investec Cup standing with a seventh in the Dimension Data Pro-Am.

That was one of the two tournaments Van Zyl has won. The other was last week’s Telkom PGA Championship. He was runner-up to Fichardt in the Africa Open and came 11th in the Joburg Open.

Fisher came close to victory in the Joburg Open, but in the end was not able to match champion Richard Sterne on his way to sixth. He came third in the Dimension Data Pro-Am and sixth in the Telkom PGA Championship.

Of course there are other players in elite field of 30: Sterne himself, ranked at 48 in the world, is trying to ensure he gets invited to Augusta National next month for the Masters, and his sharp game is a good as anyone’s; and Chris Swanepoel, the last man in after his third place in last week’s Telkom PGA Championship, will be itching for redemption after he staggered home with four bogeys in five holes in that tournament.

But, in the end, it will be the Van Zyl vs Fichardt duel which will draw the attention. “I’m glad that we’ve earned our way there,” said Van Zyl. “It wouldn’t have felt right to have snuck in from behind.”

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