The Sunshine Tour resumes its schedule this week, and with that Neil Schietekat will resume his quest for a victory that seems imminent when he tees it up in the SunBet Challenge hosted by Sun City starting on Wednesday.
After a brief break following the South African Swing of tournaments co-sanctioned with the European Challenge Tour, the famed Gary Player Country Club welcomes the Tour for the first time since Christiaan Bezuidenhout won the South African Open here in December 2020.
Schietekat returns as the 2018 winner of the SunBet Challenge. It was a triumph that ended a five-year drought between his first victory on the Sunshine Tour and his second.
And he is back at the Gary Player Country Club this week in arguably the best form of his career. The hard work he has been doing with coach Grant Veenstra has led to an incredible level of consistency in his game, with Schietekat having finished in the top 10 in five of his last six tournaments. This includes two third-place finishes.
That stretch of great form actually saw him climb 129 places on the world rankings to 233rd by the end of those five tournaments.
But what he’ll feel is missing is a victory. He came close when he challenged for the Gauteng Championship presented by Betway at Ebotse in March, but a double-bogey seven on the final hole cost him a title that went to Jbe’ Kruger as Schietekat finished third.
Schietekat will certainly relish bringing his current form to the Gary Player Country Club. Since the SunBet Challenge moved from the neighbouring Lost City Golf Course to the Gary Player Country Club in 2016, Schietekat has had a win and finishes of sixth and 16th in this tournament.
Apart from Schietekat, the field this week includes another two former champions in Adilson da Silva, who won this event in 2013 when it was played at the Lost City Golf Course, and Keith Horne, the winner in 2015 and also at the Lost City Golf Course. – Michael Vlismas
Photo: Carl Fourie/Sunshine Tour