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Statement from GolfRSA

GOLFRSA STATEMENT

Following the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture’s briefing this morning, GolfRSA on behalf of all South African golf bodies, would like to go on record in expressing our disappointment around the continued uncertainty in terms of where the return of golf stands at Alert Level 3.

There are sufficient examples globally that have proven that golf can return safely and in so doing, reignite the industry.

We have been clear with the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, through our detailed proposals and supporting documents, that a prerequisite for any professional golf to be practiced or played is for golf facilities to be open to all.

Golf clubs in the main worldwide derive their revenue from amateur golfers playing golf and this is essential for golf courses to survive. There are approximately 40 000 people employed by golf clubs across South Africa, and 85% of these employees fall in the most vulnerable economic sector.

Our overriding priority is to save jobs without adding any risk.

All South African golf bodies are united in their belief that we are well-prepared for a safe return of golf. We have the necessary protocols in place, including a comprehensive Risk Mitigation Strategy, Best Practice Guidelines and the advanced version of Healthdocs – an all-inclusive screening and monitoring application – available at all golf clubs.

Golf is played in wide open spaces and lends itself naturally to social distancing. The sport is globally recognised as healthy exercise for persons of all ages and is also an excellent stress-reliever.

We are acutely aware of government’s priority to safeguard lives, restrict the spread of the coronavirus and to save jobs in order to revive the economy. It is our strong belief that without the return of golf and opening up of golf facilities, the industry will collapse.

We will urgently pursue all avenues to engage with the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, including the Sports Steering Committee and Appeals Committee as referenced by the Minister of Department of Sports, Arts and Culture.

Sincerely

Grant Hepburn - CEO GolfRSA

Selwyn Nathan - Commissioner Sunshine Tour

Ivano Ficalbi - Chief Executive PGA of South Africa

Chris van der Merwe - Chairperson Club Manager Association of SA

Statement from GolfRSA

Statement from GolfRSA

Further to the regulations in respect of Alert Level 3 announced on Thursday, 28 May 2020, we would like to address the concerns of the entire golf industry. The vague nature of the regulations has led to different interpretations and was fuelled by misleading information in the media. In a video conference meeting with the Director-General of the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture and his team earlier today, it was confirmed that as things currently stand, golf courses will not be allowed to open under the Alert Level 3 regulations. However, please rest assured that we are still in ongoing discussions with the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture on your behalf. The department is in turn actively engaging with the National Command Council in order to seek more clarity on golf and other non-contact sports ahead of the Minister’s briefing on Saturday, 29 May. GolfRSA, the Sunshine Tour, the PGA of South Africa and the Club Management Association of Southern Africa are firmly united in their belief that golf courses and facilities should open for all golfers. Best Practice in other parts of the world has seen golf return for recreation and exercise in accordance with Covid-19 protocols. These bodies all support the belief that golf for all should return before any professional golf tournaments resume. It was reiterated in the conference call with the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture today that the survival of the golf industry is dependent on a bottom-up approach. Revenue generated by amateur participation is what funds the facilities that, in turn, employ thousands of people. The professional game is entirely dependent on this eco-system for its existence. Fellow golfers, the industry is too valuable to all of us to make rash and uncalculated decisions and unity amongst all the role players in golf is arguably now more important than it has been since the lockdown started. We ask all golf industry role players, members, golfers and staff to exercise patience and to give us your support as we continue to consult with government on your behalf. To avoid misinformation and confusion, we urge you to consult the latest updates on the Covid-19 Hubs on our respective official websites and our official social media platforms.   GOLFRSA Website:
www.golfrsa.com Facebook: @Golf RSA Twitter: @GolfRSA Instagram: @golfrsa PGA OF SOUTH AFRICA Website: https://pga.co.za/ Facebook: @PGASouthAfrica Twitter: @PGASA Instagram: @pga_sa CLUB MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHERN AFRICA Website: https://www.clubmanagement.co.za/ Facebook: @SAClubManagers Twitter: @SAClubManagers SUNSHINE TOUR Website: https://sunshinetour.com/ Facebook: @SunshineTourGolf Twitter: @Sunshine_Tour Instagram: @sunshinetourgolf
New date announced for 2020 Nedbank Golf Challenge

New date announced for 2020 Nedbank Golf Challenge

By Michael Vlismas

The European Tour has announced a new date for the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player as part of its revised 2020 schedule.

‘Africa’s Major’ is one of four rescheduled Rolex Series events and is now scheduled for December 3-6 at the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City. It will remain the penultimate tournament of the European Tour season and will be followed by the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, which will now take place from December 10-13 at Jumeirah Golf Estates, where the 2020 Race to Dubai Champion will be crowned.

Tournament host Gary Player was amongst the first to express his delight about the new date for the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

“I am so excited that a date has been set for the Nedbank Golf Challenge,” said Player. “It’s one of South Africa’s favourite sporting events. I’m sure the public will be as elated as I am. The tournament does so much good for tourism and advertising our beautiful country. I’m eternally grateful for the European Tour and all our sponsors involved.”

Mike Brown, Chief Executive Nedbank Group, said: “Despite the unprecedented challenges that we are currently facing in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic, we trust the 40th anniversary of the Nedbank Golf Challenge – now back in its early December timeslot –  will give millions of South Africans and sports fans around the world something very special to look forward to. Our brand has become synonymous with ‘Africa’s Major’, a showcase of our country to the world and a household name in the world of golf having played host to the world’s leading golfers. As Nelson Mandela reminded us – Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.”

Anthony Leeming, Chief Executive Sun International, said: “This has been an unprecedented time for all of us in golf, and we’re grateful to the European Tour, Nedbank and all of our partners in working together to ensure that we can still present the 2020 Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player. The Nedbank Golf Challenge is a week in South African sport that brings tremendous joy to so many people and we look forward to continuing this in such trying times for everybody. As a showcase event for us as a resort and one that we take immense pride and pleasure in, we look forward to hosting another edition of ‘Africa’s Major’ in a safe and responsible manner and in ongoing consultation with the South African government and relevant health departments.”

The Nedbank Golf Challenge will also form part of the European Tour’s new ‘Golf for Good’ initiative, which will include all European Tour tournaments from July until December. ‘Golf for Good’ aims to give back in four key areas:

▪ Helping the communities in which the European Tour plays

▪ Rewarding the true heroes, such as frontline key workers

▪ Raising funds for specific causes

▪ Highlighting once again the many health benefits that golf offers

In South Africa, these ‘Golf for Good’ contributions will be directed towards the local charities and Corporate Social Investment initiatives supported by the Nedbank Golf Challenge and Sun International. More details will be announced.

Following the suspension of the season on March 8, the European Tour will return to action behind closed doors in July with a new UK Swing involving six tournaments being played in July and August

Two further Rolex Series events have also been rescheduled, with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club moving to October 8-11 and the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club now taking place the following week, October 15-18.

Details of subsequent tournaments on the European Tour from September through to November will be announced in due course, with a variety of scheduling options currently under consideration as the global situation continues to evolve.

Keith Pelley, European Tour Chief Executive, said: “Since the suspension of our 2020 season in early March, we have taken a measured approach in reassessing our schedule, informed every step of the way by our medical advisers and government guidance.

“We have consistently said that safety is our absolute priority and that is why today we are announcing our resumption in two months’ time supported by a comprehensive health strategy which has been led by our medical team.

“Without question, we have had to think differently about the remainder of our 2020 season which is reflected in today’s announcement. As golf’s global Tour, diversity is ordinarily one of our biggest strengths, but in this instance, it has become one of our biggest challenges.

“I want to pay tribute to Rolex, BMW, Aberdeen Standard Investments, the Scottish Government, Nedbank, Sun International, the Sunshine Tour and DP World for their continued commitment to the European Tour which allowed us to move four hugely important tournaments on the European Tour into new dates later in the year.

“Not only did they show flexibility, but they also showed an understanding of the current global situation and we are truly fortunate to have them as partners of the European Tour.”

All European Tour tournaments will be subject to stringent safety and testing protocols. These are outlined in the Tour’s comprehensive Health Strategy which has been developed by Dr Andrew Murray, the European Tour’s Chief Medical Officer, in consultation with health care specialists Cignpost, who will deliver the testing procedure, and advisers in many of the 30 countries the Tour plays. It is a strategy which will be continuously reviewed and will evolve, aligned with South African Government guidance and health guidelines.

APPENDIX 1 - TOURNAMENT DETAILS

 UK Swing

Jul 22-25 (W-S):           Betfred British Masters hosted by Lee Westwood, Close House Golf Club, Newcastle upon Tyne, England

July 30- Aug 2:             English Open, Marriott Forest of Arden, Birmingham, England

Aug 6-9:                        English Championship, Marriott Hanbury Manor, Hertfordshire, England

Aug 13-16:                    Celtic Classic, The Celtic Manor Resort, City of Newport, Wales

Aug 20-23:                   Wales Open, The Celtic Manor Resort, City of Newport, Wales

Aug 27-30:                   UK Championship, The Belfry, Sutton Coldfield, England

 

Rolex Series:

Oct 8-11:                       Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open, The Renaissance Club, North Berwick, Scotland

Oct 15-18:                     BMW PGA Championship, Wentworth Club, Virginia Water, England

Dec 3-6:                         Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, Gary Player CC, Sun City, South Africa

Dec 10-13:                     DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai, UAE

Sunshine Tour to debut live scoring of virtual challenge

Sunshine Tour to debut live scoring of virtual challenge

The Virtual Sunshine Tour, the Sunshine Tour’s online golf gaming challenge, will feature another first when round six of this Sunday afternoon’s showpiece between Justin Harding and Oliver Bekker has live scoring similar to that of a normal golf tournament. The virtual golf game sees two professionals battle it out in a nine-hole strokeplay challenge, and golf fans who are unable to follow the live stream will now be able to monitor the scores on the Sunshine Tour website and App. Thomas Abt, the Deputy Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour, said this new initiative underpins the Tour’s drive to offer golf to a variety of audiences across the world. “Live scoring is going to work just like it does in actual tournaments. This is new, exciting and innovative. This is the direction that all sports, and not just golf, are taking. We are very pleased to be able to take the Virtual Sunshine Tour Challenge to a new height.” Justin Harding is no stranger to this kind of “golf”. He finished in a share of fourth in computer simulation of the Masters behind winner Jon Rahm back in April, and using data processed by the company DataGolf. “I think it’s the way forward,” Harding said. “I think even when guys have some weeks of you can have one of these as well.” “It allows the public to stay a little bit more engaged with the players that they could potentially not hear anything about, with nothing happening. I think it’s going to be fun and Oliver and I are going to have a couple of laughs.” “I think it is interesting,” Bekker said in a virtual press conference ahead of this Sunday’s match. “It’s a whole new thing, really. Gaming has been around for a while, I mean, you look at Twitch and Fortnite. There are people playing games that are earning millions of dollars a year. It’s a completely different kind of a world, obviously, for us as regular professional golfers, but it’s a really cool initiative by the Tour.”
Harding ready for battle of Stellenbosch 1

Harding ready for battle of Stellenbosch

Justin Harding says while he can’t wait to tee it up against an old friend in Oliver Bekker when the two battle it out in the sixth round of the Virtual Sunshine Tour Challenge – a free-to-watch live-stream YouTube – something’s bothering him. “I don’t get to use my long putter in this game,” he said during a virtual press conference held ahead of Sunday afternoon’s match up. “That is a bit frustrating, and I don’t seem to be making as many putts in this game than I do in real life.” Harding knows a thing or two about losing out to Oliver Bekker – he was defeated by Bekker in sudden-death of the 2017 edition of the Lombard Insurance Classic and many other times in The Call of Duty video game, according to revelations made at the same press conference – but has other plans for the man he’s known for so long, for this Sunday. “He (Bekker) seems to think he’s a natural in this game, I beg to differ,” said a determined Harding. “I’m hoping to get one up on him. He is a ninja when it comes to Call of Duty, I’m useless in that game but I am hoping to be a little bit more competitive on the golf one. “I’ve been playing a bit longer than Oliver. I’ve probably been playing for about a month. It’s a lot more difficult than real golf, I won’t lie. It feels like you should be pretty good at it and sometimes, you’re not.” Bekker, for his part, has been playing the game for just a little over a week and is looking forward to the good competition and some laughter on Sunday afternoon. “I just started playing the game last week and I think it’s a lot more realistic than some of the other golf games. “For me, that’s also frustrating a bit because it almost feels like you’re playing on a real golf course on some holes and you’re not. But it’s very interesting. “It is completely new. It’s innovative and I’m glad the Tour has done it. It’s the Tour getting ahead of the guys, putting us out there regardless of the fact that it’s a game or what they shoot in the game. It’s about getting people to notice that there’s something still going on in professional golf. In that regard, I think it’s great. Previous clashes involved James du Preez and Wilco Nienaber, Brandon Stone and Haydn Porteous, Martin Rohwer and Jared Harvey and Heinrich Bruiners with Andre Nel. The live-stream begins at 15h00 on the Sunshine Tour YouTube platform.
JC, Van Tonder and the season’s impressive performers

JC, Van Tonder and the season’s impressive performers

The season was long, and character, patience and resilience were a matter of demand. For some players, the overall achievements for the season matched the efforts put in, but many will feel that their season’s results betrayed the work they’d put in all year long. Whether it was JC Ritchie’s sheer dominance or Daniel van Tonder’s never-say-die spirit which saw him finish second on the Order of Merit with a single victory to boot. From the emergence of Garrick Higgo and Wilco Nienaber to the resurgence of Jaco Ahlers. The season was great and golf writers, followers of the Sunshine Tour and commentators had a lot to be impressed with. “JC Ritchie’s been so solid all season,” says SuperSport’s Richard Maspero. “His was just a standout campaign; 19 events, nine top 10s, three wins and just one missed cut. His record speaks for itself. And for a rookie, I think Garrick Higgo showed maturity beyond his years. Not often does a rookie win in their first season, and he did it twice. “And, it’s the events he won, though. Sun City is an extremely tough track with a really impressive field. And then the Tour Champs, where you compete against the best on the Order of Merit. There’s plenty more to come from him. Very level-headed. “And then there’s Christian Bezuidenhout who’s just gone from strength to strength. His win at Valderrama on the European Tour was just sensational. Taking down Jon Rahm in front of his home crowd on one of the toughest tracks on that Tour was astounding. Also, his victory in the Dimension Data Pro-am was nothing short of sensational. He looks completely at ease on the biggest stage and were it not for the outbreak of the COVID-19, we could’ve been celebrating many more staggering performances from him.” Veteran campaigner on Tour, Vaughn Groenewald was just as impressed with the performances he saw this past season. While he admits that the top three players on the Order of Merit were the best performers, Groenewald was particularly impressed with Jayden Schaper’s performance. “Look, it all went about as shown on the Order of Merit,” says Groenewald. “JC with all his wins, he was super-impressive. Danie (Van Tonder) was there too. He didn’t win a lot last year but he played solid golf all season. He was also impressive. And then Jaco Ahlers. “Jaco played so well. Finished third on the Order of Merit and going on to earn his Asian Tour card was impressive. I caddied for him out there in Asia and that man can play. But I played with Jayden Schaper for the first time in one of the Vodacom Origins of Golf events. He impressed me so much and I can tell you now that he is going to be a great player.” Some of the most impressive players included Thriston Lawrence who also claimed a breakthrough win via that Origins of Golf victory in Stellenbosch, Dylan Naidoo, Toto Thimba, Luke Jerling and James du Preez among many others. Many players will have a lot to prove when the new season starts after the national lockdown and many will want to continue where they left off. Whatever the case may be, the upcoming season promises to be a cracker.
Harvey goes out of bounds 1

Harvey goes out of bounds

From George Coetzee’s TikTok revelation to Brandon Stone’s hair game, the new Sunshine Tour Instagram TV show, Out of Bounds with Robbie Kruse, brought it all and the next guest is guaranteed to brighten things up. Jared Harvey is easily one of the most charismatic players on Tour. His now infamous ‘Bok-Bok’ voice note became legendary on social media platforms and the one-time Sunshine Tour winner is ready to lay everything in the open when he appears on the third episode of Out of Bounds with Robbie Kruse. “I think I will feel right at home,” says Harvey ahead of his one-on-one with Kruse. “The show is called Out of Bounds and, to be honest, I tend to go out of bounds a lot these days. I’ve been told that Robbie has done some background checks on me and that he knows a few things about me so I am excited to be part of the show.” While he is not awfully worried about the topics which may come up during the interview, Harvey does expect to be asked to shed some light on some of his past actions, including the ‘Bok-Bok’ saga. “I’m ready for all that,” he says with his usual confidence. “A lot has happened since that and I won't mind even if that was brought up.” To put things into perspective and to allay any fear for future guests of being ambushed, host Robbie Kruse explains: “Our aim is never to embarrass anyone,” he says. “We are only trying to show that professional athletes are human too and have lives outside of their sport environment. The show is called Out of Bounds, you know, so somethings may be asked or maybe not, but we will not go out of our way to embarrass anyone. Harvey is an interesting character. He is funny. He backs himself and he has said and done some interesting things in the past. He will be a great guest tonight.” The 30-minute show goes live on the Sunshine Tour IGTV from 8 pm and the first guest was Coetzee who was followed by Stone the next week. The Sunshine Tour’s Instagram handle is @sunshinetourgolf Along with the recently-launched online gaming Virtual Sunshine Tour Challenge, Out of Bounds has been a success during the national lockdown and in the absence of live golf as a result of COVID-19. Using The Golf Club Game as its gaming platform, the Sunshine Tour Virtual Challenge has engaged both the fans and professionals with a new way of consuming tournament golf and which is also offering value for Tour sponsors during a time when there is no traditional golf. Every week, a new challenge is issued whereby Sunshine Tour fans are encouraged on social media to vote for who they would like to see play each other in a nine-hole online match. The matches take place every Sunday afternoon and are streamed live on the Sunshine Tour’s YouTube channel, and will soon also be on Facebook and Twitch. This past Sunday’s match featured big hitters Wilco Nienaber and James du Preez. Nienaber won that match.  
Sunshine Tour making big strides with digital drive

Sunshine Tour making big strides with digital drive

The Sunshine Tour has grown its digital footprint and is busy reaching a new community of golf fans through its pioneering Sunshine Tour Virtual Golf Challenge. The Tour launched its online gaming presence with great success during the national lockdown, and in the absence of live golf as a result of COVID-19. Using The Golf Club Game as its gaming platform, the Sunshine Tour Virtual Challenge has engaged both the fans and professionals with a new way of consuming tournament golf and which is also offering value for Tour sponsors during a time when there is no traditional golf. Every week, a new challenge is issued whereby Sunshine Tour fans are encouraged on social media to vote for who they would like to see play each other in a nine-hole online match. The matches take place every Sunday afternoon and are streamed live on the Sunshine Tour’s YouTube channel, and will soon also be on Facebook and Twitch. This Sunday’s match will feature big hitters Wilco Nienaber and James du Preez. But the great differentiator is that the fans can log in and be a part of the action as they not only listen to the hilarious and highly competitive comments of the professionals competing against each other but can also ask questions of their favourite pros which they answer during the game. Tour sponsors are also given an opportunity to have their branding on the live stream. The response to the Sunshine Tour Virtual Golf Challenge has been incredibly positive as it has significantly increased the Tour’s digital footprint and following. In the past week, the Sunshine Tour’s Facebook account saw a 579% increase in its “audience reach”, with substantial new growth in the critical market of 18-24-year-olds. In total, all of the content promoting the most recent match between Brandon Stone and Haydn Porteous, including the match itself and highlights, reached a cumulative audience of over 100 000 on Facebook alone. It has even resonated with the mainstream media as daily newspapers have requested interviews with the various weekly winners, and highlights of the matches have been televised on SuperSport, eNCA, Newzroom Afrika and the SABC, which is a first for South African professional golf. Through the Sunshine Tour Virtual Golf Challenge, professionals and fans can still experience that Sunday afternoon final-round feeling of a back-nine challenge to win a tournament.
10 years ago: Van Zyl starts dream run

10 years ago: Van Zyl starts dream run

In this series, we look back at tournaments that happened when the Sunshine Tour was open for action 10 years ago… It was a year to remember for Jaco van Zyl back in 2010 as he won four tournaments on his way to a sixth-place finish on the Order of Merit – and he did it in some style at the Vodacom Origins of Golf tournament at Sishen. With the likes of Ulrich van den Berg, Keith Horne and Justin Walters posting low final rounds, local boys Jbe’ Kruger and Theunis Spangenberg turning the screws, and, most ominously of all, Jean Hugo on his way to a trademark storming 63, Van Zyl did all he had to do to win with his own bogey-free 67 and a sixth title on the Sunshine Tour. Van Zyl had set off like a house on fire in the first round: He had five birdies and an eagle on his scorecard without a dropped shot. He started his round on the 10th, and was quickly into his work with an eagle on the longest hole on the course, the 520-metre 11th. He followed it up with a birdie on 14, and then three in a row from 16 to 18. There was just a single gain as he turned for home on the front nine, but it was all enough for him to be a shot clear of local veteran Des Terblanche at the end of the day. He followed that with a four-under 68 in the second round. He’d started that as if he meant to make sure he was uncatchable, with five birdies and not a single dropped shot in the opening nine. But consecutive bogeys after the turn set him back a little, and he picked up just one of those two shots lost when he birdied the 14th. Charl Coetzee, Adilson Da Silva and Chris Swanepoel had made up a lot of ground on Van Zyl, and were lurking just one and two strokes back as the final round began. Kruger, who learnt his golf at Sishen, was three back, Hugo five, Spangenberg six, Van den Berg eight and Walters nine. Walters was the first to move, with two eagles and four birdies on his way to a 64, but it was a few shots short of being a challenging clubhouse target for Van Zyl. Van den Berg made 11 birdies and two bogeys in his 63, and that meant Van Zyl was going to have to go two-under to win. Spangenberg and Kruger carded 64 and 65 respectively, which meant Van Zyl had to do some real work to finish ahead of them. But it was Hugo’s 63 – which included a hole-in-one on the eighth, and eagle on the second and three more birdies on his front nine of 29 – which was an attention-seeker. He kept the pedal to the metal with four more birdies on his way home, but two bogeys kept him within the sights of Van Zyl. The 36-hole leader started in exactly the way he would have wanted: Consecutive birdies on the opening holes made it clear he was going to be tough to stop. An eagle on the sixth saw him turn in 32 and he was in sight of the title. It was a composed homeward nine for Van Zyl, as he made eight pars, and the birdie he needed to edge into the lead came on the 14th. That was all he needed and he cruised home to set off a series of wins which would make it a year to remember for him.  
Looking back: The last Africa Open

Looking back: Fisher wins last Africa Open

The Africa Open was played eight times, and produced a list of great South African names as champions. But can you remember who the last winner of the tournament at East London Golf Club was? Sure, you can recall the two-in-a-row performance from Louis Oosthuizen in 2011 and 2012. And you can recall that Retief Goosen’s last title on the Sunshine Tour came in 2009 in the second edition of the event. If you’re really sharp, you’ll even remember that Shaun Norris won the inaugural tournament in 2008 when it was played at the Fish River Sun Country Club near Port Alfred. So who was the last man to win the title? It was Trevor Fisher Jnr in 2015, when he romped to 24-under-par for the week for a five-stroke victory over England’s Matt Ford, with Eduardo de la Riva, Jorge Campillo and Morten Orum Madsen in a share of third another three strokes back. It was a third-round 63 – nine-under-par – which set up Fisher for the win after Ford had led at the halfway mark. The Modderfontein pro took a two-stroke lead into Sunday with that brilliant performance on the Saturday. He made seven birdies and an eagle in the third round in a display of flawless golf which propelled him into a position to win his maiden European Tour title. He’d also made only two other bogeys in the tournament’s first two rounds – at the eighth in the first round, and on the first in the second. There were no outward signs of any nerves as he birdied the first and third holes, while Ford, his nearest challenger, did the same. But Fisher appeared to falter with a bogey on the fifth. Ford pounced with birdies in six and seven, and Fisher was able to hold the Englishman at bay with answering birdies there too. The turning point came on the ninth, when Ford dropped a shot and Fisher birdied to restore his lead to two strokes as the pair headed to the homeward nine. Fisher pressed home his advantage with a birdie on 10 as Ford embarked on a run of four successive pars. Just marking time was not going to stop the flying Fisher, however, as the South African also made four successive pars from 11 to 14. A birdie for Ford on 14 brought the gap back to two, but it galvanised Fisher into action. He responded to the challenge with birdies on 15 and 16, and rounded off the rout with a sublime birdie on the closing 18th as he came home in 31 for a comfortable victory. It was a significant win for Fisher: It secured the 36-year-old the elusive European Tour card he had been chasing for nearly a decade. “I’ve tried so hard to get that European Tour card, for so many years. Obviously it’s a massive step for my career because that’s where all South African golfers want to be,” he said. That was to be the last playing of the Africa Open on a course that was much-loved by the Sunshine Tour and European Tour professionals alike – unless it gets resurrected in a world after lockdown!  
10 years ago: Jbe’ Kruger wins in Zimbabwe 1

10 years ago: Jbe’ Kruger wins in Zimbabwe

In this series, we look back at tournaments that happened when the Sunshine Tour was open for action 10 years ago… His maiden Sunshine Tour victory had come in 2009 in the Zambia Open, and, in late April 2010, Jbe’ Kruger was turning it on in a flashy display of low scoring to race to a two-stroke victory in the Africom Zimbabwe Open from April 21-24 at Royal Harare Golf Club. Anthony Michael held the 54-hole lead, two strokes clear of local hero Marc Cayeux. Kruger, Ulrich van den Berg, Eugen Marugi and Jaco Van Zyl were all grouped on 12-under-par, three shots off the pace. It was Michael’s second-round 62 which caught the eye, however, and even though he and Cayeux had carded even-par 72s for the third round, the final-round battle looked to be between the two of them. But ignoring Kruger’s 68-69-67 opening would not have been in the thinking of any of the contenders, as he already had a good few low closing rounds to his name. Only Van den Berg, Van Zyl and local Ryan Cairns had gone lower than Kruger in the third round with their 66s, so the youngster who had been a professional since January 2007, and who had showed so well in January’s Africa Open with his share of third behind winner Charl Schwartzel. Kruger didn’t open his charge for the top of the leaderboard spectacularly: A birdie on the first was followed by pars on the par-three second and the par-five third – a missed opportunity for sure. He birdied the fourth and fifth, however, to get to the turn in two-under – 14-under for the tournament – and still very much in the mix. Michael turned in level par, and Van Zyl in three-under. Van Zyl picked up another shot on the 11th to go to the front, and a birdie on 12 seemed to set him up for a charge for home. But Kruger was just getting started: He made eagle three on the 530-yrd 12th before settling himself with a par on the 448-yard 13th. That was the signal for him to put his foot to the floor as he set off in pursuit of his second Sunshine Tour title. Three consecutive birdies from 13 to 15 put him clear as Van Zyl birdied 13, and had to wait until the 17th for another gain to attempt to haul in the flying Kruger. It was not enough, however, as Van Zyl, 20 minutes ahead of Kruger, made his fourth consecutive par on the deceptively tough closing par-four 18th. That left Kruger to par his way home to maintain his lead, while, behind him, only Cayeux had much of a chance, and his two birdies in the closing nine were enough for a three-under 69, but not for victory. And so Kruger’s second victory – like his first – came outside South Africa.  

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