GOLF NEWS - The continuing strength of the Sunshine Ladies Tour is splendidly illustrated today with the announcement of a new event that takes the sixth season to a record nine events in 2019.
The Sunshine Ladies Tour has taken a bold step with the introduction of a Team Championship as part of its drive to broaden the support of the women’s professional circuit.
“We introduced the team championship on the Sunshine Tour last year,” said Sunshine Tour Commissioner Selwyn Nathan.
“It proved highly successful and we are confident that it will enjoy the same success on the Sunshine Ladies Tour. We had more than 50 international players competing on the Sunshine Ladies Tour in 2018 and initial entries suggests we will exceed that number this year. With the team event early in the season, we can foster friendships and camaraderie between the international and local competitors in a fun, but competitive environment.
“The Betterball format is a lot less stressful than the 54-hole stroke play events and is the perfect platform to gently induct our young amateurs onto the Sunshine Ladies Tour. The golf industry is continuously looking for new ways to make the sport attractive to new fans and draw bigger audiences, and this is our contribution.”
The Serengeti Team Championship marks the second new event to join this year’s schedule.
The 36-hole tournament will be played after the season-opening Canon Sunshine Ladies Tour Open, which tees off at Irene Golf Club on 30 January. The Joburg Ladies Open moves to the end of the season, following the inaugural Jabra Ladies Classic at Glendower Golf Club in March.
City of Johannesburg Director - Event Management Bongi Mokaba welcomed the initiative.
“We applaud the Sunshine Ladies Tour for their innovation and we embrace the opportunity to move the Joburg Ladies Open to the end of the season,” said Mokaba.
“We are very excited to take the Sunshine Ladies Tour to the Soweto Country Club for the very first time. This is history in the making and having the season-finale at such an iconic South African venue is a fitting way to end the season and the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit race.”
Cheryl Leicher, Head of Marketing for Investec Property, also commended the Sunshine Ladies Tour on the addition of two new events this season.
“Investec Property has been committed to grow the women’s game in South Africa since the inception of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and we are pleased to see two additional events on this year’s schedule,” said Leicher.
“Both events provide our local golfers with vital playing opportunities and, although the Serengeti Team Championship will not count towards the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit, it will add to the excitement of the season and the anticipation of a thrilling finale at the Joburg Ladies Open.”
The sixth edition of the Sunshine Ladies Tour will include eight counting events towards the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit, plus the Serengeti Team Championship.
The season launches with the R200 000 Canon Sunshine Ladies Tour Open at Irene Country Club from 30 January to 1 February. Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate will host the R100 000 Serengeti Team Championship on 5 and 6 February.
The sixth edition of the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am from 15-17 February will see the competitors play the first two rounds of the R500 000 event at George Golf Club and the final round at the Outeniqua Course at Fancourt. The in-tournament pro-am over the three rounds carries additional prize money of R100 000.
The circuit then moves to KwaZulu-Natal. San Lameer Country Club will host the R250 000 South African Women’s Masters from 20-23 February, while the R400 000 SuperSport Ladies Challenge presented by Sun International returns to the Wild Coast Sun Country Club from 26-28 February.
The players will warm up for Investec South African Women’s Open at Westlake Golf Club from 14-16 March in the R200 000 Cape Town Ladies Open at Royal Cape Golf Club from 6-8 March. Both events are supported by the City of Cape Town and the R2-million flagship event will once again co-sanctioned with the Ladies European Tour.
The inaugural Jabra Ladies Open, offering prize money of R200 000, follows at Glendower Golf Club from 20-22 March, where after Soweto Country Club will play host to the season-finale Joburg Ladies Ladies Open from 26-28 March.
The R500 000 event will also draw the curtain on the season-long Investec Property Fund Order of Merit points race, which will net the winner a R100 000 bonus prize.
This year’s Sunshine Ladies Tour also offers a number of fantastic incentives for the class of 2019.
The Investec South African Women’s Open champion will earn exemption on the Ladies European Tour for the remainder of the 2019 season and the 2020 season and qualify for two Majors – the 2019 AIG Women’s British Open and the Evian Championship.
The Jabra Ladies Classic winner or the next best finisher not otherwise exempt up to 20th place will earn a spot in the field of the Ladies European Tour’s Jabra Ladies Open – the only European Qualifying event for the Evian Championship.
The winner of the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit will also earn a spot in one of the Ladies European Tour main events (to be determined) and automatically qualify for the Final Stage of the Qualifying School for the 2020 season.