Golf World Championship event for SA

13 February 2012

South African golf fans will have the rare opportunity of watching home-grown major winners Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel compete in their own backyard against the world’s best players when the inaugural Tournament of Hope tees off on 28 November 2013.

They’ll be up against players of the stature of Tiger Woods, Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, and Martin Kaymer.

The ground-breaking tournament, widely proclaimed as the richest single event in golf, will carry a purse of US$8.5-million – which translates to a staggering R64-million – and is set to draw the best golfers in the world.

World Golf Championship event

“The Tournament of Hope will become the sixth elite World Championship of Golf event and will see the world’s top golfers go head-to-head on South African soil,” Sunshine Tour chief executive Selwyn Nathan said in a statement on Sunday.

He said the qualifying criteria for the Tournament of Hope will be of the same standard as the majors and World Golf Championships.

“The World Golf Championships series in was launched in 1999 by the International Federation of PGA Tours, comprising the PGA Tour, European Tour, Japan Golf Tour, the Sunshine Tour and the PGA Tour of Australasia.

“Like the four individual World Golf Championships (WGC) events, which are widely regarded as (being only) one rung down from the majors, it will bring together the best players in the world, based mainly on the official rankings.

‘Incredible honour’

“With the three WGC events held in the United States, and the HSBC Champions and World Cup staged in China, it is a massive scoop and incredible honour for South Africa to host an event of this stature.”

Nathan said that one of the mains aims of the Tournament of Hope is to raise awareness of HIV/Aids prevention.

“The 2013 edition will end on World Aids Day, and the tournament will be held in South Africa for at least the next five years,” he said. “We hope to stage it on similar dates in the future.”

Nathan added that the Tournament of Hope will be the culmination of many projects planned ahead of the event.

“There are marathons, walkathons, gala fund-raising dinners, the Concert of Hope and a number of other projects in planning that will promote the Tournament of Hope and this very critical cause.

The biggest and most prestigious’

“The Sunshine Tour will not only plan to host the biggest and most prestigious golf tournament Africa has ever seen, but the Tournament of Hope will be the most prominent golf event on the 2013 calendar, and that will go a long way in raising the profile of HIV/Aids prevention and treatment.”

Nathan said the exact field size for the Tournament of Hope has not yet been determined, nor has a venue been selected.

“We can almost guarantee that most, if not all of the world’s top golfers, will be in the line-up because of its high profile,” he said.

“The Tournament of Hope will carry the same status as the other five WGC events. The top 50 ranked golfers in the world will qualify and the field will be supplemented by the top five individual ranked players from the money lists and Orders of Merit of the six tours that make up the International Federation of PGA Tours, should they not already qualify via the world rankings.

“The final field size, the venue and the sponsors will be announced at a later stage.”

Race to Dubai

Nathan also confirmed that the Tournament of Hope will count towards the European Tour’s 2014 Race to Dubai.

“It could also possibly count towards the 2014 PGA Tour Order of Merit,” he said. “Although it is scheduled for the end of 2013, it could serve as the opening event on the 2014 PGA Tour. That would be another major coup for South African golf.

“For a nation with relatively few golfers compared to other nations, we fight well above our weight in world terms. We have regularly produced major champions, with four currently playing on the international stage and nine players in the top 100 in the official world golf rankings, more than any other country except the United States.

“We currently host four European Tour co-sanctioned tournaments, and the opportunity to host a World Championship of Golf event in South Africa further acknowledges our stature on the global golfing stage.”

SAinfo reporter

Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material