Sun City Challenge: What’s what

31st May 2018 | Sunshine Tour

Sun City Challenge: What’s what

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The Sun City Challenge is being played for the seventh time. It is going back to Gary Player Country Club this year and tees off on Tuesday 5 June and finishes on Thursday 7 June. The prize fund for this year was increased to R800,000 from R750,000 last year.

Three out of the six winners of the tournament will play this week. The title is yet to be successfully defended.

Recent winners include defending champion Peter Karmis, Oliver Bekker who won in 2016 and Keith Horne in 2015.

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:

Peter Karmis (six-under-par 210, won play-off against Jake Roos)

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:

Not many players are as hot as Justin Harding currently. It is difficult to ignore the continued good record which traces back from last season to recently winning two tournaments in 10 days in eSwatini.

The seven-time Sunshine Tour winner opened the 2018-19 season with missing the cut in the Zanaco Masters. A week later he came up with a perfect turnaround strategy in the Old Mutual Zimbabwe Open where he finished tied fifth on 12-under-par 276.

And then the floodgates opened for him in eSwatini where he first claimed victory in the Investec Royal Swazi Open and then the Lombard Insurance Classic in May.

His performance is a continuation of the good 2017-18 season on the tour where he enjoyed seven top-10 and three top-20 finishes.

Sentimental pick:

Last year, Jake Roos came very close to adding another trophy to his cabinet when he lost on the first play-off hole to Karmis after they finished tied six-under 201. Recently, he lost another play-off when he was defeated by Harding at the Lombard Insurance Classic at the Royal Swazi Spa after they finished tied 20-under-par 196.

The start for the season has been promising for Roos, coming 30th on one-under-par 287 on the Zanaco Masters and then he went on to finish 20th on seven-under-par 281 on the Old Mutual Zimbabwe Open.

The Arabella Golf Estate player had a solid share of fifth on 10-under-par 278 at Mopani Redpath Zambia Open, but he missed the cut at Investec Royal Swazi Open on his way to Lombard.

The recent results show that he is ready to enter the winner’s circle again after five years of trying – and that would be a thrill.

The bolter:

Ruan de Smidt wants to limit the number of bogeys in his rounds this week to improve his results. He finished his first round of four-under-par 68 with a single bogey in the Lombard Insurance Classic which was his best round there. He then slipped to three bogeys in his second round which was the start of his misery and that saw him falling to five bogeys in his final round which spoiled the eagle on the fifth.

De Smidt started the season with missing the cut in the first three tournaments. He started getting better as he finished tied 37th in the Investec Royal Swazi Open and tied 38th on six-under-par 210 in the Lombard Insurance Classic. The Krugersdorp Golf Club player who has four wins on the tour had three top-10 finishes last season. He would want to do well at Sun City this time around following missing the cut last year and finishing 23rd on six-over-par 222 in 2016.

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