South Africa’s oldest golf club, Royal Cape Golf Club, returns to the Sunshine Tour golfing calendar with the much-anticipated inaugural Lion of Africa Cape Town Open. After more than 10 years without an event, the golf course hosts a professional tournament as the 2012 Sunshine Tour season nears its close. With a purse of R2 million, it will be interesting to who will claim the winner’s share of R317 000.
The Sunshine Tour has not hosted a major golfing tournament in Cape Town since the 2002 Vodacom Players Championship – a Sunshine Tour event. Sure, there have been events at Pearl Valley, Arabella, Stellenbosch and Erinvale, but there has been absolutely nothing in Cape Town itself. There’s certainly nothing wrong with the quality of courses in the area, so the lack of big golf events is worrying. All that has changed thankfully, as the course will play host to one of South Africa’s biggest golfing tournaments this weekend, featuring a formidable field that includes the likes of Hennie Otto, Darren Fichardt, Jake Roos and James Kingston.
Hennie Otto returns
Last year’s SA Open champion Otto will be returning to Royal Cape Golf Club, where he last played during the days of The Tour Championship. Otto would love to sweeten his return to the course with a victory. The 36-year-old South African golfer approaches the tournament on the back of a bittersweet experience in the SA Open. Otto failed to defend his SA Open title, but shot a course-record 62 at Serengeti Golf Estate, which matched the lowest SA Open score. However, the man from Pretoria is looking forward to leaving a lasting impression at Royal Cape. “If the wind’s not going to blow, it’s going to be low,” he said.
Needless to say, Otto will be facing stiff competition from the likes of Fichardt and Kingston. Fichardt’s top-10 finish in the SA Open means he could be the man to watch at Royal Cape this week. He is yet to register in the Sunshine Tour this year, despite winning the Saint-Omer Open in France on the European Tour in June.
Otto won’t be the only golfer who will be taking a trip down memory lane. James Kingston, who last played at Royal Cape in 2001, was nostalgic about his return to the Mother City. “All the old faces are here and it’s so nice to play an event in Cape Town again. It’s sad that we don’t get to play here more often,” Kingston said. Kingston has not secured a victory on the Sunshine Tour since 2010, and the Cape Town Open presents him with an opportunity to return to winning ways.
New faces, among the plenty of Sunshine Tour tournament winners, will join the veterans and could challenge for honours at Royal Cape. The field features Keith Horne, Chris Swanepoel, Christiaan Basson, Zimbabwe’s Ryan Cairns, Justin Harding, Allan Versfeld, Teboho Sefatsa, Ruan de Smidt and Doug McGuigan, all of whom have tasted success this year. Fresh from last weekend’s SA Open, we should see some great scores providing the wind doesn’t come up.
The Lion of Africa Cape Town Open promises to be an action-packed weekend for the professional-golf starved crowd in Cape Town. If your weekend is looking on the quiet side, there’s no excuse why you shouldn’t make a day of it and come watch some of South Africa’s finest tee it up.