17 September 2021 – Reigning South African Amateur champion Christiaan Maas will tee it up as one of a group of talented amateurs in this year’s South African Open Championship at Gary Player Country Club in Sun City from 2-5 December.
Closer to the tournament, GolfRSA will select four other amateurs, based on ranking, to join Maas in receiving an invitation to play in South Africa’s flagship professional event, which is co-sanctioned by the European Tour and carries a purse of $1.5 million for the professionals. The leading amateur who makes the cut will win the prestigious Freddie Tait Cup.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout will return to defend the title he won at the same venue last year and tradition holds that Maas will play alongside the champion for the first two rounds.
“I’m so excited to play in the South African Open,” said Maas. “The Gary Player Country Club is an iconic venue and my most favourite course in South Africa. I can’t wait to tee it up in another European Tour event and to play with Christiaan Bezuidenhout, who I really look up to as a player.
“I plan to make amends for last year, where I qualified to play in the SA Open but finished badly to miss the cut by one stroke. I was gutted at the time but, looking back, it was an important part of my learning curve and I can’t wait to improve on that performance and, hopefully, win the Freddie Tait.”
Bezuidenhout, fresh from securing his PGA Tour card, will be joined at Sun City by, amongst others, fellow PGA Tour campaigner Dylan Frittelli. The field will also include European Tour champions Dean Burmester, Justin Harding and George Coetzee, while there is expectation of support from more of South Africa’s leading international professionals.
The 2021 South African Open forms part of the Sunshine Tour and European Tour’s new landmark partnership concluded in July which guarantees the South African Open as a co-sanctioned tournament until 2025.
The ongoing COVID-19 restrictions mean the Nedbank Golf Challenge can again not be played this year, and with Nedbank and Sun International agreeing to continue their support of the South African Open. The tournament will continue to abide by all South African government health protocols concerning COVID-19 and comply with any future government announcements concerning this.
“We are so excited to have both Nedbank and Sun International, two longstanding supporters of the Sunshine Tour, with us as we begin this incredible new chapter with the European Tour. They have always been important in our quest to create the best opportunities for South African professionals. As our national Open, the South African Open has also always represented a key moment of great opportunity for South African golfers to take their careers to the next level, and now even more so,” said Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour.
Grant Hepburn, CEO of GolfRSA, also expressed his delight at what this new partnership brings to the national Open.
“GolfRSA and the South African Golf Association, who are custodians of the South African Open, are extremely proud of the legacy of the South African Open and the fact that it continues to be seen as one of world golf’s most historic tournaments.”
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: “The South African Open has been central to the longstanding partnership between the European Tour and Sunshine Tour for over a quarter of a century now. It’s wonderful that as we now grow this partnership, we do so with the South African Open continuing to also grow its influence and build on its already proud legacy on both our tours.”
Given that COVID-19 regulations have once again prevented the playing of ‘Africa’s Major’ – the Nedbank Golf Challenge – Nedbank and Sun International have again agreed to support the South African Open as it enters this new era of increased opportunity for professionals from South Africa and Europe.
“In this difficult environment for all players and golf fans, Nedbank is proud to have played its part in being the stimulus that helps to keep South African golf moving forward. While ‘Africa’s Major’, in the form of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, waits to be able to make its return at Sun City, the South African Open gives us an opportunity to continue our longstanding support of golf in this country, and now even more so with this new phase that the national Open is entering,” said Mike Brown, Chief Executive of Nedbank.