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Sun City Challenge: What’s what 1

3rd June 2019 | Sunshine Tour

Sun City Challenge: What’s what

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Sun City Challenge: What’s what

The Sun City Challenge is going back to Gary Player Country Club and tees off on Wednesday 5 June and finishes on Friday 7 June. The prize fund for this year is increased to R1-million from R800,000 last year.

The tournament was a first played in 2016, but it has a predecessor called the Nashua Golf Challenge which was played from 2007 up until 2011 and was held at the Gary Player Country Club, although from 2007 to 2009 the second round of the Nashua Golf Challenge was played at Lost City Golf Course. From 2012 to 2015, the Sun City Challenge was held at Lost City, before returning to Gary Player Country Club from 2016.

Keith Horne and Adilson da Silva are the only players who have won the title twice. Horne won in 2008 and 2015 while Da Silva, the Brazilian who has made his home in South Africa, won in 2011 and 2013. Da Silva also holds the lowest winning score of 14-under in 2011 with a brilliant closing 63 on Gary Player Country Club. Horne carded 13-under for his 2015 victory.

Out of 10 previous winners of the title, four are in the field this week: Neil Schietekat who is defending, Horne, Doug McGuigan and Jaco van Zyl.

The title is yet to be successfully defended.

There are three wins that were decided after play-offs: Horne (2008), Bryce Easton (2012) and Peter Karmis (2017).

The format:

54 holes of stroke play. After 36 holes there will be a cut to the leading 40 professionals and ties.

The field:

108 professionals

Defending champion:

Neil Schietekat (six-under-par 210). He will be attempting to defend his title.

The course:

The Gary Player Country Club situated at Sun City has been acknowledged as South African’s premier championship test of golf since it was opened in 1979. It is a difficult and demanding course. The course requires stamina and accuracy from players. Off the back markers, the course measures over 7,000 metres which makes it one of the longest on which the Tour plays. But a variety of tees makes it possible to shorten the course and render it playable for all levels of golfers.

A distinguishing feature of the course is its greens complexes, with strategically placed bunkers, swales and mounds that protect the super slick clover-shaped greens. With pristine kikuyu fairways and excellent bent grass greens, the course is kept in perfect condition all year round.

Form player:

Thriston Lawrence has not finished lower than 21st in his four starts this season, and that includes his runner-up finish at the Lombard Insurance Classic. Lawrence wrapped up the 2018-19 season on a good note as he finished not lower than 15th in his last five starts early in the year. That included his fourth spot at the Eye of Africa PGA Championship and runner-up at the Tour Championship ahead of the new season.

The results are a good indication that the Nelspruit Golf Club player is on a mission to register his maiden win and so far, he is showing no signs of letting up in that chase.

Sentimental pick:

Louis de Jager was a runner-up at last year’s tournament. After that, he went on to share third at the Sun Royal Spa Swazi Challenge and then he claimed two wins at the Sun Sibaya Challenge and the Eye of Africa PGA Championship. De Jager has not finished lower than 22nd in his five starts at Sun City, except for missing the cut once in the 2015 edition, and he will want to keep up his good record. The five-time Sunshine Tour winner who also plays on the European Tour will want to continue his good run on home soil following an extended run in Europe during which his best showing was a share of second at the Magical Kenya Open.

The bolter:

Andre Nel missed the cut once in four starts this season – in his last outing at the Lombard Insurance Classic. He had three top-10 finishes last season and the same number in his rookie season in 2017. The Kingswood Golf Estate representative is no stranger to the Gary Player Country Club course as he finished T37 in last year’s edition of the tournament and, while a win would be unexpected, it would not be entirely surprising.


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