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City of Johannesburg drives new era of SA Open
The Sunshine Tour announced on Monday that a decision was taken in partnership with GolfRSA, the City of Johannesburg, the European Tour and Asian Tour to create an even greater stage for the South African Open by merging it with the Joburg Open.
The South African Open hosted by the City of Johannesburg will be played on Randpark’s two championship golf courses, Firethorn and Bushwillow, and will feature a field of 240 professionals – including Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace, Charl Schwartzel and former champion Brandon Stone – competing for a minimum of R17.5 million in prize money.
The championship will, for the first time in its history, be a tri-sanctioned championship between the Sunshine Tour, European Tour and Asian Tour, and it will retain the international qualifying opportunities of the Joburg Open.
“The new South African Open brings together the invaluable passion and support of the City of Johannesburg for professional golf with the second oldest national Open in the game, and the result is now one truly world-class golf tournament,” said Selwyn Nathan, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour.
The Executive Mayor of Johannesburg, Councillor Herman Mashaba, said he was delighted that the city will continue to position itself as the forefront of world golf through its hosting of a major championship such as the South African Open.
“We are extremely proud to be the new host city of the South African Open and to be able to translate the excellence of the Joburg Open into a new future for this historic championship. We look forward to continuing to showcase what Johannesburg has to offer, and to taking this message to Europe as well as Asia as we seek to use the global footprint of this tournament to benefit the residents of our city.”
This will mark the third time in its history that the South African Open will be played at Randpark.
It was played here in 1995 when Retief Goosen beat Ernie Els by five strokes, and then again in 2000 when Swede Mathias Grönberg took the title.
“The South African Open has experienced phenomenal growth over the past few years and as the custodians of this great championship we look forward to this new partnership with the City of Johannesburg,” said Grant Hepburn, Chief Executive Officer of GolfRSA.
As the official player-host of the South African Open, Ernie Els said he is looking forward to this next step in the continued growth of the championship.
“It’s been an exciting last few years for the South African Open in which we’ve made this tournament one of the great championships of world golf again. This is another important step in this process, with a major internationally-recognised city such as Johannesburg aligning itself so strongly with our national Open.”
Els is also an International Ambassador of the Asian Tour, and Asian Tour Chief Operating Officer Cho Minn Thant said they are delighted to add the South African Open hosted by the City of Johannesburg to their schedule.
The South African Open hosted by the City of Johannesburg will occupy a premier place as one of the first tournaments on the European Tour’s new season.
“It has been our privilege to play a role in the growth of the South African Open and we look forward to taking this even further in its new role with the City of Johannesburg as a partner,” said European Tour Chief Executive Officer Keith Pelley.
“The championship’s prime positioning on our schedule makes it a very attractive tournament for our members who love playing in South Africa. We also look forward to continuing the partnership we had with the City of Johannesburg in the Joburg Open as we showcase this amazing city to our millions of viewers worldwide.”
In addition to this exciting new announcement, the Soweto Country Club will also become the official legacy project to the South African Open. Working with the City and corporate South Africa, efforts are underway to ensure that the Soweto Country Club becomes a top golf destination.
For the City of Johannesburg, this represents an opportunity to not only create potential new jobs within the community but also to grow the sport of golf in previously disadvantaged communities.
Article Credit : Golf RSA
Photo Credit : Heinrich Helmbold