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Golf | SA

Branden Grace © Gallo Images

2012 - A year in numbers



The 2012 season has been a memorable year for all those involved with the Sunshine Tour. The Tour itself has grown from strength to strength, and has been duly recognised for its prowess by the European Tour given the number of events it has now co-sanctioned.

The number of events has increased, and the Tour even made a return to Cape Town after a ten-year hiatus from the Mother City. The brand is the strongest it has ever been, and 2012 has been the biggest year since its inception.

Of course, it is players that make the Tour, and the story of the year has without question been the sensational efforts of Branden Grace.

A seventh-place finish in last year’s Order of Merit saw him try his hand at European Tour Qualifying School at the end of 2011, and it turned out to be a lucrative decision.

After earning his full playing card for 2012, the 24 year-old went on to win four European Tour events and tied the record number of wins for a rookie.

Since winning the co-sanctioned Joburg Open in January, Grace has also led the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit, and another win at the Vodacom Origins Final underlined his dominance.

Despite it looking as though he’ll come under pressure from the rampant Charl Schwartzel at the Alfred Dunhill Championship, a good finish should ensure that he finishes atop the standings.

Another star to emerge this year was Ruan de Smidt, who won the qualifying school as an amateur at the end of last year.

In his rookie season as a pro, the 23-year-old from Krugersdorp has earned nearly R500 000 in prize money, and even chalked up his maiden victory, at the Suncoast Classic in October.

Although his efforts may well fall just short of the exploits of 2011 rookie Allan Versfeld, De Smidt has announced his arrival on the grand stage and is a name for the future.

But as the 2012 season enters its final round, let us take a look at some of the memorable facts, stories and milestones that have arisen in the last 12 months.

102 – number of South African Open Championships staged in South Africa to date.
86 – percentage of fairways hit by Adilson da Silva.
57 – lowest round in Sunshine Tour history - recorded by Jaco van Zyl and Scott Jamieson in the Nelson Mandela Championship at the “makeshift” par-65 Royal Durban Golf Club.
29 – millions of Rand Branden Grace has amassed in prize money this year.
26 – number of Sunshine Tour events.
21 – cuts made by Desvonde Botes.
14 – average greens in regulation per round for Jbe Kruger.
10 – years since an event was held in Cape Town.
8 – number of tournament playoffs this season.
6 – Sunshine Tour events now co-sanctioned with the European Tour.
5 – career victories for Jake Roos, all courtesy of a playoff.
4 – Sunshine Tour Order of Merits won by Charl Schwartzel.
3 – Sunshine Tour victories for Trevor Fisher Jnr in 2012.
2 - The number of holes in one Keith Horne has made on the Sunshine Tour. And on the 12th hole at Leopard Creek.
1 – Tournament of Hope. The $8.5 million event will be staged in South Africa for 10 years from November 2013 and is the second-richest golf event in the world.

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