14th May 2019 | Sunshine Tour
Lombard Insurance Classic: What’s what
The Sunshine Tour stages the Lombard Insurance Classic for the 13th time at the Royal Swazi Spa Country Club starting from Friday May 17 to Sunday May 19. It boasts a prize fund of R1-million.
The tournament was established in 2007. Merrick Bremner (pictured) is the only player to win the event three times – in 2008, 2013 and 2016 – with Peter Karmis winning twice in 2007 and 2009 and Justin Harding also winning it twice in 2011 and 2018.
Dean Burmester holds the tournament record score of 23-under-par which he scored in 2015. That’s three shots better than Harding who is second to him.
There are four players whose wins had to be decided in play-offs, starting with Grant Muller back in 2010, Jake Roos in 2012, Oliver Bekker in 2017 and Harding last year.
The professionals play 54 holes of stroke play, with a cut after 36 holes to the top 45 players and those tying on the score.
60 professionals and 60 amateurs make up the pro-am field. The pro-am competition is better ball medal and four-ball alliance, with two scores to count.
84 professionals, 60 amateurs.
Justin Harding. He defeated Jake Roos in a six-hole play-off after they were tied on 20-under-par 196. Harding is not coming to defend this week.
The course takes its shape from the Lugogo Mountain Range and is a 6,872-metre parklands layout. The first nine holes are comparatively level, while the homeward nine fully exploits the mountainous terrain. All the greens have been planted with Durban Country Club grass, which provides a thinner and therefore a faster putting surface. The fairways are planted with hardy kikuyu, which stands up well to constant use and remains relatively green throughout the year.
Some of its most obvious challenging features include lakes, gullies thick with vegetation, out-of-bounds areas running close to fairways, wickedly-placed bunkers (one of which is so steep that railway sleeper steps have been provided to facilitate access), swirling breezes and clusters of towering trees and indigenous plants.
Martin Rohwer comes to this week fresh from his maiden Sunshine Tour win at the Investec Royal Swazi Open on the same course two weeks ago. He made his intentions clear as he took the lead from the opening round. Rohwer, who got his playing privileges on tour after finishing second in the 2017 Qualifying School, will tee up with his confidence high on the course that introduced him to the winner’s circle, and he will want to continue where he left off. It looks like the Kloof Country Club representative enjoys playing on the course as he finished 21st in the Investec Royal Swazi Open and 16th in the Lombard Insurance Classic last season. He’ll be looking to see if he can follow in Harding’s footsteps and make it a double on eSwatini soil in a single season.
Jake Roos lost in a six-hole playoff to Harding in last year’s event as they were tied 20-under- 196 after the third round. The 2012 Lombard Insurance Classic winner finished in a share of second at the Investec Royal Swazi Open two weeks ago. Roos was unlucky not to register a win last season as he finished runner-up three more times after the defeat to Harding, but as things stand it is clear that he is still in good shape for a win. His experience on the course will work as one of his advantages as he looks for his second win on the eSwatini soil this week.
Derick Petersen shared ninth at Royal Swazi Spa Country Club when he played the Investec Royal Swazi Open two weeks ago. He finished in a share of 30th in last year’s event.
He came close to registering his maiden Sunshine Tour win when he was a runner-up at the Vodacom Origins of Golf Final in November. That’s not to forget his runner-up finish at the Vodacom Origins of Golf San Lameer in 2015. He also has two top-10s in the last four years. A win would be a great breakthrough for the 31-year-old player.