12th February 2020 | Sunshine Tour
Dimension Data Pro-Am: What’s what
We return to the magnificent Fancourt this week for the penultima event on the schedule, the Dimension Data Pro-Am. This year’s event marks the 25th year of play on the Sunshine Tour (and was co-sanctioned with the European Tour for the first two years) and is, for the first time, co-sanctioned with the European Challenge Tour. As has become the norm, the tournament will be played on all three course – Montagu, Outeniqua and The Links at Fancourt – from February 13 to 16.
72 HOLE STROKEPLAY – 180 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 & The Links Golf Courses. The final round will be played on the Montagu Golf Course. 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.
72 HOLE BETTERBALL MEDAL – 180 Professionals and 180 Amateurs make up the Pro-Am field. Players drawn together in one team stay together for the duration of the tournament. The format is Betterball Medal, the best net score on each hole to count. Each team will play one round on the Montagu, Outeniqua & The Links Golf Courses. On conclusion of the third round, there will be a cut to the leading 26 team scores. All teams making the 54-hole cut will contest the final round to be played on the Montagu GC.
Sweden’s Philip Eriksson is the defending champion after he Justin Walters by three shots on 21-under-par 268.
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 kinds of grass; the Kentucky Blue, Rye, Fescue and Bent, with the greens a dominant Bent.
This course provides for an easier game than its counterpart, the 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 Bentgrass 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. Montague, 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.
There is no doubting Daniel van Tonder’s form headed into this week. He led for three straight rounds last week in Cape Town but faded away in the final round. He placed seventh thereafter a final-round 78, the only round he carded a score in the 70s for the entire tournament.
Before then, in Limpopo, where he came ninth, Van Tonder looked a threat, especially after the opening round there where he blitzed to a nine-under-par 63 round. There too, he could not seal the win. In his five starts this year – including the Gauteng Team Championship – Van Tonder has missed the cut twice, first at SA Open and then in Dainfern.
Worth noting, however, is that in the three events where he has not missed the cut, Van Tonder has been in contention. He came 12th year here last year and shared 32nd the year before. He will feel he can pose a threat in George this week, especially because of the form he’s recently shown.
Plus, there’s the Order of Merit to fight for. He currently sits behind JC Ritchie on those standings, trailing by just a little over R100 000. He is the man to look put for this week and if his recent form is anything to go by, then Van Tonder is very capable of walking away with a victory here this week.
Jacques Kruyswijk will feel that with his performances in the last three to four weeks, he deserves a win. He walked away with two third-place finishes back-to-back – Eye of Africa PGA Championship and Limpopo Championship – and got a top 20 finish in Cape Town.
His aggressive style has had some questioning whether or not it can deliver him victory but Kruyswijk is no stranger to the big stage and his 2016 victory in the Cape Town Open is testimony to this. He struggled in Europe last year but has started this year rejuvenated and by his own admission, in a better space mentally.
While he has shown that he can produce the goods when it’s that time, Kruyswijk has struggled in the final round and as such, especially in the last few events, he lost narrowly lost out when many thought he’d run away with the victory. Be that as it may, however, Kruyswijk, on his day, can get the job done and an early victory on the Challenge Tour’s Road to Mallorca, will surely give him confidence moving forward.
Wilco Nienaber has left a lot of pundits and fans talking since making his Sunshine Tour debut. His length of the tee and his general demeanour has had many punting him as the next big star and his performances on the golf course have given a glimpse of what may yet come from the lanky 19-year old.
He was on contention ahead of the final round in Cape Town and that result was preceded by a second-place finish in Limpopo. The former GolfRSA Elite Squad member was on course to finish in the top 10 at the Eye of Africa PGA Championship but forgot to sign his scorecard, an error which got him disqualified.
Currently the longest-hitter on Tour and second to Garrick Higgo on the rookie of the year race, Nienaber looks like he is intent on winning something quite early in his career and as Higgo did in only his fifth start as a pro when he clinched the Sun City Challenge, Nienaber has shown all the qualities of a veteran winner and it would be a pleasant surprise to a lot of people if he won here this week.