13th February 2019 | Sunshine Tour
Dimension Data Pro-Am: What’s what
Dimension Data Pro-Am: What’s what
Our last visit to the magnificent Fancourt Golf Estate, Jaco Ahlers claimed a three-stroke victory over Jean-Paul Strydom. This year’s event will be played on all three courses – Montagu, Outeniqua and the Links at Fancourt – from February 14 to 17.
156 professionals will make up the field. The cut will be to 60 players and ties, after round three. Each contestant will play one round on Montagu, Outeniqua and The Links at Fancourt. The final round will be played on Montagu. In the event of a tie for first place, there will be a sudden death playoff on holes to be determined by the tournament director.
For the pro-am, 156 Professionals and 156 amateurs make up the field. Players drawn together in one team stay together for the duration of the tournament. The format is Betterball Medal, the best nett score on each hole to count. Each team will play one round on the Montagu, Outeniqua and The Links. On conclusion of the third round there will be a cut to the leading 25 team scores. All teams making the 54-hole cut will contest the final round to be played on Montagu.
Jaco Ahlers is the defending champion after he defeated Jean-Paul Strydom by three shots after he finished on 20-under-par 269.
The Links at Fancourt:
This is regarded as the hallmark of this estate, with undulating, windswept terrain and dune-style landscape. 6,755 metres in length, this championship course will test and bring joy to golfers of all levels. The fairways on this beautiful par-73 design are made up of four different season grasses: Kentucky Blue, Rye, Fescue and Bent, with the greens a dominant Bent.
This course provides for an easier game than its counterpart, Montagu, while offering its fair share of challenges and water hazards on as many as 11 of its holes, including four of the last five. Outeniqua rolls over 6,312 metres of greenery and regarded as the easier course to play in this world-class estate, but will punish any complacent golfer.
Designed by Gary Player and named after the mountain range that forms its backdrop, the course is designed to accommodate a large volume of players. Grassed with Kikuyu on the fairways and Bent grass on the greens, Outeniqua has been ranked the number one golf course in the country on a few occasions.
This 6,714 metre design is a tree-lined parklands layout, with a few slopes to climb, that is well-conditioned to provide the best-golfing experience. Montagu and Outeniqua are closely related as they are both parkland layouts that wind across the undulating terrain. Montagu, though, is the longer and arguably the tougher of the two with a host of wonderfully designed holes.
Several tight fairways here will demand accuracy and as well as length from the tee, and those treacherous water hazards will dangerously punish any golfer who will stray towards them on certain holes. Boasting fast undulating greens, stylish bunkering and the ever-present backdrop of the Outeniqua mountains, Montagu is a world-class golf course by any standard.
Nobody can dispute Zander Lombard’s form right now. In the six Sunshine Tour tournaments he has played this season since reclaiming his European Tour card, Lombard has been red hot. It all started with his maiden title at the Vodacom Origins of Golf at Zebula. He backed that up with a fourth-place finish at the final event of that series at Pinnacle Point.
One would have thought missing the cut at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open would dampen his resolve, yet, on the contrary, it looks as though that that result injected him with a new sense of confidence.
A top-15 finish at the world’s second oldest golf championship, the South African Open hosted by the City of Joburg, was soon followed by a third-place finish at the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek.
In all these events, there was always a sense among media and pundits that Lombard was going to win one of them soon, as his game just got better and better.
Another solid week for him in Cape Town ended in disappointment as he watched Follett-Smith walk away as the victor. Nevertheless, the fact that he has looked threatening in all but one of his six tournaments on the local circuit shows that he is ready to add a second piece of silverware to his budding cupboard.
Strydom makes a return to Fancourt after a solid week in Cape Town where he narrowly lost out to Zimbabwe’s Benjamin Follett-Smith. His rounds of 69, 67, 70 and 66 were solid enough to deliver him his maiden Sunshine Tour title, but Ahlers’ experience came to the fore as his third and fourth round scores of 66 and 64 proved unassailable.
At the RAM Cape Town Open last week, Strydom, again, showed his hunger for a title and despite a fourth-round 74 which played a bit-part in his demise, he has shown he is ready to grace the winner’s circle at any moment. While his best results for the season have come from Cape Town, Eye of Africa PGA Championship (17th), Alfred Dunhill (18th) and the Wild Coast where he came 18th, he has proven to be a strong competitor and counting him out this week might prove dangerous.
Thriston Lawrence reclaimed his Sunshine Tour playing card via the gruelling route of qualifying school and has had a season of mixed results since then. A top-10 finish at the Royal Swazi Challenge gave him a much-needed confidence booster, and that was soon followed by a top-five finish at the Vodacom Origins of Gold at Zebula.
A couple of missed cuts here and there threatened his Order of Merit standings but he fought admirably to climb up to the 58th he currently occupies.
That was largely thanks to the results he got at the Eye of Africa PGA Championship where he came fourth, the closest he’s come to winning a Sunshine Tour event in his young career. The following week, Lawrence finished eighth at the RAM Cape Town Open to ride the previous week’s momentum.
The Big Easy #15 win he has under his belt should serve as a motivator for the rest of the season and playing one of the gems of South African golf this week, Fancourt Golf Estates, Lawrence should be relishing his chances.