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The European Tour has done well to put together a three-week South African swing co-sanctioned with the Sunshine Tour before the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. That comes as a big relief to the players, who had to suffer a long hiatus before the Tour re-started in July.
Of the Indian players, Shubhankar Sharma will be the happiest as he has great memories of the Joburg Open, which he won to set his career into a fast forward mode. The young Chandigarh golfer, who also won Maybank Championship soon after has since been a regular on the European Tour.
The Joburg Open last featured on the European Tour International Schedule in December 2017, when it formed part of the early 2018 season, and was won by Sharma.
After the two-week trip to Cyprus, the European tour travels to South Africa for a three-week swing that starts with the Joburg Open from November 19-22. It will be followed by thee Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek from November 26 to 29 and the South African Open at thee Gary Player Country Club will round off the swing.
The South African Swing
Nov 19-22 Joburg Open
Nov 26-29 Alfred Dunhill Championship
Dec 03-06 South African Open
Those three events will offer some consolation to the European Tour starts, who have seen a bunch of regular events, including some of the highly lucrative Rolex Series events being cancelled in 2020.
The DP World Tour Championship is usually preceded by the Turkish Airlines Open and the Nedbank Challenge, both which are Rolex Series events with $ 7 million purses.
The Joburg Open
The R 19,5 million (roughly $ 1.2 million) Joburg Open will be played at Randpark Golf Club with support from the City of Johannesburg and will be the first international men’s golf tournament on South African fairways in nine months. It will also be the first of a run of tournaments co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the Sunshine Tour.
“I want to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to Johann Rupert, Thomas Abt, Selwyn Nathan and everyone at the Sunshine Tour for their commitment in making this happen, in addition to the Executive Mayor and the City of Johannesburg for their help and support,” said Keith Pelley, the European Tour Chief Executive.
Alfred Dunhill Championship
The week after the Joburg Open, the Alfred Dunhill Championship will be contested from November 26-29 at the majestic Leopard Creek Country Club and will feature prize money of R29million (approx. $ 1.78m) and it will be the largest purse on the Sunshine Tour this season.
The Alfred Dunhill Championship is one of the most eagerly anticipated tournaments of any year with its unique setting and ambience; Leopard Creek nestling on the banks of the Crocodile River overlooking the magnificent Kruger National Park.
It also means that the Alfred Dunhill Championship will feature twice on the 2020 European Tour schedule having had the honour of setting the ball rolling on this season’s Race to Dubai last November when Spain’s Pablo Larrazábal claimed the title.
The splendour of the location has been reflected in the quality of its winners since 2000 with Major Champions Ernie Els, Justin Rose, Adam Scott and Charl Schwartzel amongst those who have lifted the trophy.
South African Open
The week after the Dunhill Championship, the three-week South African Swing will be completed by the South African Open Championship, which will be played from December 3-6. It will be played at the iconic Gary Player Country Club in Sun City and will be jointly presented by Nedbank and Sun International.
Like the Alfred Dunhill Championship, this will be the second appearance of the South African Open Championship on the 2020 European Tour schedule, the tournament having been contested in January at Randpark Golf Club in Johannesburg, where home favourite Branden Grace triumphed.
A part of the European Tour International Schedule since 1997, the South African Open Championship holds the honour of being the second oldest national Open in golf, and this year will feature a total prize fund of R19.5 million.
In the absence of the Nedbank Golf Challenge this year, Nedbank and Sun International – both longstanding sponsors of South African professional golf – will support the South Africa’s national Open.
Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour, said he was delighted to be able to confirm such a strong run of co-sanctioned tournaments at the end of the year.
“To have three big tournaments such as the Joburg Open, Alfred Dunhill Championship and South African Open Championship in a three-week stretch of international golf of the highest calibre on South African fairways is truly a testament to the incredible relationship we have with the European Tour, and our strong partnerships with our sponsors. We are extremely grateful to Nedbank and Sun International for their decision to support our national Open in this way.”