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Golf | SA

Sterne ranking shows value of Sunshine Tour



Richard Sterne kept his position at number 48 in the Official World Golf Rankings after his share of eighth in last week’s Investec Cup, showing the real value in ranking points Sunshine Tour events now offer.

The six-time European Tour winner clocked up plenty of world ranking points over the last three months in SA, moving from 154th at the beginning of the year to his current position of 48th – a position inside the top 50 he needs to keep until April 1 in order to secure his invitation to the Masters two weeks later.

With the Sunshine Tour now boasting 10 players in the top 100, local events have attractive ranking points on offer – especially when those players take part in home tournaments.

Added to this are visits from some of the biggest foreign names in world golf. The South African Open Championship last year hosted the likes of former world No 1 Martin Kaymer and also Henrik Stenson. In February this year the Tshwane Open hosted Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal and major champions Darren Clarke and Michael Campbell.

Clearly the run of co-sanctioned events and the bolstered ranking points they carry have drawn the attention of more than just the local players.

Jaco van Zyl’s meteoric rise in the world rankings is a perfect example of this. The 34-year-old has split his time between the European and Sunshine Tours for the past three years, but his success at home has been the key to climbing the ranking.

Van Zyl began the year ranked 146th and rose steadily with on the back of a second-place finish at the Africa Open and a win at the Dimension Data Pro-Am, the latter of which hosted players as prestigious as England’s Simon Dyson, a six-time European Tour winner.

By the time he lifted the Investec Cup trophy on Sunday, Van Zyl had moved to 68th in the world. That’s nearly Masters territory and would have seen him make the reserve list for the WGC-Accenture Match Play tournament.

The golfers’ migration north will begin now that the summer swing is complete, and players like Van Zyl and Sterne have achieved great heights through their success on local shores. Their rise into the upper echelons of world golf has set up their year, but more importantly, they have paved the way for next year’s summer in South Africa, which could lure some of the biggest names the Sunshine Tour has seen.

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