Golf | 24 Oct 2017 | By Michael Vlismas
SA stars ready to challenge for glory in BMW SA Open Championship, proudly hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni
From left to right: Cllr Doctor Xhakaza, MMC Finance and Economic Development: City of Ekurhuleni; Alexander Baraka, General Manager: Brand Management BMW, Marketing Services; and Selwyn Nathan, Executive Director of the Sunshine Tour at the launch of the 107th BMW South African Open, proudly hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni, at Glendower Golf Club on Monday. | Photo by Tyrone Winfield
The 107th BMW South African Open Championship, proudly hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni, will feature one of its strongest local challenges in recent years as South Africa’s top professionals seek to return the title to home soil.
The January 11-14 edition of the second oldest national Open in golf, co-sanctioned by The Sunshine Tour and The European Tour, was officially launched at Glendower Golf Club on Monday.
Ernie Els, the player host of the R15 million championship, leads a strong South African challenge including double US Open champion Retief Goosen, 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, 2016 champion Brandon Stone, and European Tour winners Branden Grace, George Coetzee, Haydn Porteous, Dean Burmester, Darren Fichardt and Dylan Frittelli.
The South African professionals remain fiercely patriotic about their national Open, and the fact that four of the last six editions of this prestigious championship have been won by foreign golfers provided further impetus behind their commitment to the 2018 championship.
Els has five South African Open titles behind his name and said he is delighted with the response from the leading South African professionals to support the championship’s continued growth.
“The 2017 BMW South African Open Championship, proudly hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni, was highlighted by the fact that we had one of the world’s best players, Rory McIlroy, in the field. The 2018 tournament will be highlighted by some of our best local professionals making sure that this title comes back to South Africa.”
Goosen has twice won his national Open, while Stone returns as the last South African to have won the championship in 2016.
England’s Graeme Storm took the title in January 2017 following a thrilling playoff with McIlroy at Glendower Golf Club.
And Schwartzel has as much incentive as the rest of his fellow South Africans to add this title to his list of global victories, having been beaten by England’s Andy Sullivan in a playoff in 2015.
“BMW has a long history of involvement with the sport of golf. Golf, like our other major sporting sponsorships, has an inherent synergy with the BMW brand. We are pleased to be entering into the third year of the BMW South African Open Championship proudly hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni,” said Alexander Baraka, General Manager: Brand Management BMW, Marketing Services.
“The tournament has always featured prominently in the careers of South Africa’s greatest golfers. It is the common thread running through all of their careers. To have such a strong local contingent going up against the European Tour’s finest professionals is a true celebration of what this championship stands for and the South African pride associated with it,” Baraka added.
The City of Ekurhuleni and Glendower Golf Club are once again hosts of one of the great tournaments in world golf.
“We look forward to once again welcoming the international golfers to Ekurhuleni and also placing our full support behind our South African professionals as they seek to return this historic title to its home,” said City of Ekurhuleni Executive Mayor, Councilor Mzwandile Masina.
“The record attendance and interest we had in the 2017 BMW South African Open Championship, proudly hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni, was another resounding endorsement of Ekurhuleni’s status as a municipality focused on its people and able to deliver on our growth and development targets.”
Selwyn Nathan, Executive Director of The Sunshine Tour, praised the support of the country’s top golfers for the flagship tournament on The Sunshine Tour calendar.
“The BMW South African Open Championship, proudly hosted by City of Ekurhuleni, has a rich history on our tour and has been the foundation upon which many of our country’s leading professionals have built their illustrious careers.
“This has been a title that our South African golfers have always defended with great pride, and we look forward to one of our homegrown stars adding their name to its incredible history.”
The BMW South African Open Championship, proudly hosted by City of Ekurhuleni, will be the first 72-hole tournament of the 2018 calendar year on The European Tour.
“We are delighted to return to the City of Ekurhuleni and Glendower as the first 72-hole tournament of the year for our members,” said European Tour Chief Executive Officer Keith Pelley.
“The 2017 BMW South African Open Championship, proudly hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni, set a thrilling tone for the rest of the season, and I have no doubt that South Africa and the support of our partners, The Sunshine Tour, and sponsors BMW and the City of Ekurhuleni, will again make for the start of another exciting year on The European Tour in 2018.”
About The Sunshine Tour
The Sunshine Tour is a men’s professional golf tour based in Southern Africa. The tour is one of the six leading men’s tours which make up the International Federation of PGA Tours, which includes the PGA Tour, The European PGA Tour, The Japan Golf Tour, the PGA Tour of Australasia, and the Asian Tour.
The winner of the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit is awarded the Sid Brews Trophy.
The Sunshine Tour co-sanctions five tournaments with the European Tour and tri-sanctions two tournaments with the European Tour and Asian Tour.
The Tour also has a strong development tour in the Sunshine Big Easy Tour as well as a thriving women’s tour in the Sunshine Ladies Tour.
About The European Tour
The European Tour celebrates men’s professional golf on a global stage. In 2017, the European Tour International Schedule features a minimum of 47 tournaments in 26 countries, including eight Rolex Series events, all part of the Race to Dubai.
Celebrating the global connectivity of the European Tour and Dubai, the Race to Dubai is a season-long competition to crown the European Tour’s Number One player, an honour which in 2016 went to Sweden’s Henrik Stenson for the second time, and which since 2009 has also been achieved three times by Rory McIlroy, as well as by Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Luke Donald. Formerly known as the Order of Merit, points are accumulated based on prize money won, with the top 10 ranked players at the end of the season sharing a $5million Race to Dubai bonus pool.
Since its formation in 1972, the European Tour has witnessed 26 Members celebrate a total of 52 Major Championship titles between them, enjoyed ten Members attaining the pinnacle of World Number One and has celebrated its diversity as players from 36 different countries have won on the Tour.
The European Tour also manages the Challenge Tour, which featured 28 tournaments in 22 countries in 2016, and the Senior Tour, which featured 13 tournaments in nine countries in 2016. It is also the Managing Partner of Ryder Cup Europe, the body which, alongside the PGA of America, administers golf’s greatest team contest, The Ryder Cup.
The European Tour broadcasts live coverage of its tournaments to more than 490 million homes in more than 150 countries every week, generating in excess of 2,200 global broadcast hours for each event. It also enjoys the support of many of the world’s leading business brands with Rolex, BMW, Emirates and Titleist as Official Partners.