Week three of the European Tour‘s journey throughout South Africa takes the gamers to Sun City for the nationwide open.
When the unique pre-Covid Tour schedule was introduced late final yr, Sun City had been because of stage the Nedbank Challenge in mid-November.
It would have been the second of three Final Series occasions on Tour, with a complete prize fund of $7.5m.
But that was all scrapped in March, amid lockdowns all over the world, and when golf re-surfaced in June the calendar regarded very completely different.
Although this week’s South African Open doesn’t carry wherever close to the identical stage of prize cash because the Nedbank, it stays a prestigious title for these born within the nation.
The South African Open, which was first staged in 1903, is likely one of the oldest nationwide championships on the planet, with the nation’s best ever golfer – Gary Player – successful the event 13 occasions.
And it was Player who designed this week’s course at Sun City which is laid out inside an extinct volcanic crater.
Opened in 1979, the course is situated within the north-west of the nation, round 100 miles from Pretoria, and a barely longer distance from Johannesburg.
This parkland venue has Kikuyu grass fairways and Bentgrass placing surfaces, and was carved out of densely-wooded rolling countryside.
At greater than 7,800 yards in size, the course calls for strong, correct ball-striking, with each energy and accuracy required in abundance.
Although the ball flies additional than regular, because of the course being simply over 1,000 toes above sea stage, it nonetheless requires loads of hefty swipes to become familiar with this venue.
Only one par-four is lower than four hundred and forty yards, whereas all par-three holes are over 210. The shortest par-five is 547 yards.
From tee-to-green, it stays a course able to penalise any errant shot because of its slim fairways and small however quick placing surfaces.
The South African Open has been a part of the European Tour schedule for 23 years, though this would be the first time the occasion has been hosted by Sun City.
The course has been an everyday venue for 2 occasions on South Africa’s Sunshine Tour.
Up till 2009, it hosted the Dimension Data Pro-Am, in addition to staging the Sun City Challenge between 2007 and 2011, and once more from 2016. Less than two months in the past, the course additionally hosted the Investec Royal Swazi Open.
Bezuidenhout ‘prime seed’
Last week’s winner at Leopard Creek, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, is the highest-ranked golfer participating at Sun City.
Less than a 3rd of these competing within the nationwide open have performed within the Nedbank Challenge, though many of the South African golfers on show this week can have skilled Sun City throughout Sunshine Tour occasions.
Among these to have registered good Sunshine Tour outcomes at this course are JC Ritchie, Louis De Jager and Neil Schietekat.
The latter has completed first and second right here, in addition to tieing-for-Eleventh within the not too long ago co-sponsored Joburg Open.
Young Wilco Nienaber, the world No 186, could possibly utilise his huge hitting to good impact and safe a maiden victory.
The 20-year-old prodigy completed second at Randpark two weeks in the past, after main by 54 holes.
Another huge hitter is Brandon Stone whereas the accuracy of Garrick Higgo, 21, ought to show useful on a course the place he gained the Sun City Challenge in 2019.
Twitter: Andy Swales@GolfStatsAlive
MC* – Missed Additional 54-Hole Cut
Note: List Contains Leading Reserves
Course Form Table Shows Nedbank Challenge Results (2013-19) And Lists T-25 Finishes In Sunshine Tour Events (2016-20) At Sun City.