21st May 2020 | Sunshine Tour
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.