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27th January 2020 | Sunshine Tour

Limpopo Championship: What’s What

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The Limpopo Championship made its debut on the Sunshine Tour schedule last year and it boasted a R1.5-million prize fund. The organisers promised to make the second edition bigger and better and that they have achieved.

In its second edition, the Limpopo Championship is co-sanctioned with the European Challenge Tour and boasts a R3.5-million prize fund. The much-bigger tournament will be played from 30 January to 02 February 2020, at Euphoria and Lifestyle Estate and Koro Creek in Modimolle, Limpopo.

The format:

72 holes of Stroke Play. All competitors will play one round each on the Euphoria and Koro Creek Course during round one and two. After 36 holes there will be a cut to the leading 60 professionals and those who tie on that score.

Rounds three and four will be played on the Euphoria course.

The field:

204 professionals.

Defending champion:

JC Ritchie is the defending champion. He is defending this week.

The course:

Euphoria Golf & Lifestyle Estate is set in the beautiful Waterberg mountain range.

The 18-hole championship golf course is the first in Africa to be designed by Swedish great Annika Sorenstam and provides an exclusive experience. The Estate is also distinguished by a cableway which links the clubhouse to the mountain Estate and Ntshonalanga Restaurant, perfect for watching the sunset while enjoying breath-taking views.

It is home to numerous game reserves, the area is rich in cultural, historical, natural and geological attractions. The 760-hectare nature reserve is home to a wide variety of indigenous fauna and flora. The estate is a stone’s throw from Nylsvley. Though not as large as the Okavango, it is the largest natural floodplain in South Africa and is famous for its exceptional birdlife.

The course is situated two hours away from Johannesburg and one-and-a-half hours from Pretoria.

 

Koro Creek Bushveld Golf Estate is a par-72 championship golf course, measuring 6825m and a true challenge with the fairways narrowing as you enter onto the green.

The course was designed by the DDV-Design Group with construction and maintenance done by Wonder Gardens who was also involved in the development of Leopard Creek and The Links at Fancourt. A portion of the golf course extends into the Nylsvley Nature Reserve, offering the golfers the relaxing experience of golf combined with nature.

Form Player:

The only time JC Ritchie has missed the cut this season was back in September last year in the King’s Cup in eSwatini. He’d already won the Zanaco Masters five months prior in Lusaka. Like last year coming into this tournament, Ritchie is beaming confidence as he and his friend and playing partner Jaco Prinsloo, successfully defended their Gauteng Team Championship titles over the weekend.

He was already firing on all cylinders going into last week’s event, having come seventh at the Eye of Africa PGA Championship and sixth at the SA Open hosted by the City of Joburg.

Now, headed to a familiar hunting ground and on which he has tasted success in recent times, and at the back of a successful defence, Ritchie has no reason to feel like he can’t defend his Limpopo triumph, even as the field is much bigger and the quality much improved, with the Challenge Tour joining in.

He has won three of his four order of merit titles between the months of March and April, a signal that he can be quick off the mark in the way of victories, and will want to continue with that trend. The stage is bigger and the rewards even bigger this year, however, that’s not something Ritchie isn’t used to – shown by his SA Open performance just the other day – so a successful title-defence is very possible this week.

Sentimental pick:

Jaco Ahlers has won in Euphoria before and is in a scintillating form which recently earned him a spot at the 149th The Open later in the year. Leading the order of merit standings on account of the number of events he’s played this season – one must play a minimum of six events to be eligible to win the order of merit prize – and boasting two victories and six top 10 finishes, he knows he is in with a shout this week.

The bolter:

Stephen Ferreira has had his fair share of struggles this season, especially in the last few months. He last made the cut in October last year in the Sibaya Challenge, a reality he has worked hard to turn around. Despite those struggles, however, Ferreira remains a strong competitor and has shown glimpses of outright brilliance, as shown by his KCB Karen Masters performance, where he narrowly lost out to Toto Thimba Jnr in the end.

He is very capable of stringing together low rounds and on a day when his putter is obedient, a very low career-defining score is very possible, such as the 62 he signed for in the opening round of that showdown in Nairobi in July last year.

He has no issues confidence-wise and a solid ball-striker, Ferreira will want to combine these attributes and a few more to mount a challenge for only his maiden Sunshine Tour title. What better championship to claim your maiden title in than the Limpopo Championship?

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