Sun City golf show to return all guns blazing


Golf South African Open added to the European Tour Image: European Tour

The South African Open Championship will return to the Gary Player Country Club (South Africa) from December 2nd-5th, 2021 with a prize fund of US$1.5 million and with Christiaan Bezuidenhout (South African professional golfer who is a three-time winner on the European Tour) back to defend his title.

The ‘European Tour’ stated that Bezuidenhout will be joined at Sun City by, amongst others, fellow European Tour champions Dylan Frittelli, Dean Burmester, Justin Harding, and George Coetzee, while there is expectation of support from more of South Africa’s leading international professionals.

The South African Open Championship is one of the oldest national open golf championships in the world, having first been played in 1903, and is one of the principal tournaments on the Southern-Africa-based Sunshine Tour. Since 1997, it has also been co-sanctioned by the European Tour.

The Gary Player Country Club is a golf club in Sun City, South Africa, named after golf icon and Grand Slam winner, Gary Player. It is home to one of the world’s longest golf courses, at almost 8,000 yards.

The 2021 South African Open forms part of the Sunshine Tour and European Tour’s new landmark partnership announced in July which guarantees the South African Open as a co-sanctioned tournament until 2025. It will also form part of the early 2022 season schedule on the European Tour.

The Sunshine Tour is the men’s professional golf tour based in Southern and East Africa. For much of its early history it was known either as the South African Tour or Sunshine Circuit through sponsorship deals. It has also been known as the Vodacom Tour and the FNB Tour.

The PGA European Tour is an organization which operates the three leading men’s professional golf tours in Europe: The elite European Tour, which is the principal golf tour in Europe, the European Senior Tour, for players aged 50 or older and the developmental Challenge Tour.

The ‘European Tour’ further stated that the tournament will continue to abide by all South African Government health protocols concerning COVID-19 and comply with any future Government announcements concerning this. The ongoing COVID-19 restrictions mean the Nedbank Golf Challenge (annual men’s professional golf tournament played at the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City) can again not be played this year, and with Nedbank and Sun International agreeing to continue their support of the South African Open.

Remarked Thomas Abt, Commissioner, Sunshine Tour, “We are so excited to have both Nedbank and Sun International, two longstanding supporters of the Sunshine Tour, with us as we begin this incredible new chapter with the European Tour. They have always been important in our quest to create the best opportunities for South African professionals. As our national Open, the South African Open has also always represented a key moment of great opportunity for South African golfers to take their careers to the next level, and now even more so.”

Grant Hepburn, CEO, GolfRSA, also expressed his delight at what this new partnership brings to the national Open, “GolfRSA and the South African Golf Association, who are custodians of the South African Open, are extremely proud of the legacy of the South African Open and the fact that it continues to be seen as one of world golf’s most historic tournaments.”

GolfRSA is the unified body of the South African Golf Association (SAGA) and Women’s Golf South Africa (WGSA), administering, operating and providing service to amateur golf in South Africa.

Observed Keith Pelley, Chief Executive, European Tour, “The South African Open has been central to the longstanding partnership between the European Tour and Sunshine Tour for over a quarter of a century now. It’s wonderful that as we now grow this partnership, we do so with the South African Open continuing to also grow its influence and build on its already proud legacy on both our Tours.”

Given that COVID-19 regulations have once again prevented the playing of ‘Africa’s Major’ – the Nedbank Golf ChallengeNedbank and Sun International have again agreed to support the South African Open as it enters this new era of increased opportunity for professionals from South Africa and Europe.

Stated Mike Brown, Chief Executive, Nedbank, “In this difficult environment for all players and golf fans, Nedbank is proud to have played its part in being the stimulus that helps to keep South African golf moving forward. While ‘Africa’s Major’, in the form of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, waits to be able to make its return at Sun City, the South African Open gives us an opportunity to continue our longstanding support of golf in this country, and now even more so with this new phase that the national Open is entering,”

Anthony Leeming, Chief Executive, Sun International (resort hotel chain and casino destination from South Africa, best known for its Sun City Resort) shared, “It is a privilege for us to host the South African Open and to once again welcome back both the European Tour and Sunshine Tour to Sun City and the Gary Player Country Club. This golf course has witnessed some of the most historic moments in the game as the home of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, and we’re proud to be able to add this historic moment in South African Open history to that list.”

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