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Golf | SA

James Kingston © Gallo Images

Big summer awaits SA’s rising pro golfers



As South African professional golf prepares to enter its lucrative summer swing, former South African Open champion James Kingston has called on the public to support the country’s young stars.

In the next six weeks, this country’s fairways will host three tournaments co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and the European Tour in the SA Open, Nelson Mandela Championship and Alfred Dunhill Championship; a major charity tournament in the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola; the Nedbank Golf Challenge; and a new event in the Cape Town Open.

It’s that time of the year when big money meets big opportunities for Sunshine Tour professionals.

Last year, Garth Mulroy won the Alfred Dunhill Championship and it played a major role in carrying him to the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit title.

Also last year, Hennie Otto won the South African Open and he remains a strong presence on the European Tour as a result.

Going back to 2010, a certain Branden Grace won the Coca-Cola Charity Championship, hosted by Gary Player, in November. He returns this November as a major star on the European Tour.

It’s a breakthrough time for South Africa’s professionals, and represents exactly the kind of spark the Sunshine Tour can give to a young pros career.

“We all put a lot of pressure on ourselves to play well in these big events. Obviously, that’s where everybody makes good money,” Trevor Fisher Jnr said from this week’s Nedbank Affinity Cup at Sun City, which is where most of this country’s professionals are fine-tuning their games for the summer. Fisher Jnr. is currently fifth on the Sunshine Tour’s Order of Merit, and knows a good finish or even a win over the next few weeks could see him win the moneylist.

That opens up exemptions into some of the biggest tournaments in world golf, such as the Open Championship, the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, the World Golf Championship events of the Cadillac Championship and the HSBC Champions, and The Memorial tournament on the PGA Tour.

“I’m lying nicely on the Order of Merit, so hopefully I can finish off the season well,” said Fisher Jnr.

And he’s precisely the kind of player Kingston would like to see South African golf fans support over the next few weeks.

“It would be nice to see people supporting our young stars like they do the name players, and coming to some of the tournaments like they go to the Nedbank Golf Challenge. What about our rising stars? They’re the next generation and need that support.”

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