SAGA welcomes Ernie home

South African Golf Association president, Gerhard Conradie, welcomed the Sunshine Tour’s announcement that South Africa’s most successful golfer of the past three decades, Ernie Els, will take on the role of host and ambassador for the South African Open Championship at the 104th playing of the world’s second oldest Open in January 2015 at Glendower Golf Club in Ekurhuleni.

“This is truly wonderful news for South African golf than Ernie is coming home,” said Conradie at the official press launch at Glendower Golf Club on Wednesday.

“As the custodians of the South African Open Championship, we take great pride in the fact that Ernie is coming on board to support our flagship event.

“His golfing roots with the Ekurhuleni Golf Union stretches back to his junior golfing days and it is very fitting that he will supporting our flagship event right here where he honed his game.”

Selwyn Nathan, executive director of the Sunshine Tour, also welcomed the announcement.

“We are very excited that Ernie has accepted the role as host and ambassador and we are sure this will go a long way to re-establishing golf’s second-oldest national championship as one of the world’s flagship events,” Nathan said.

“Ernie’s commitment to the Sunshine Tour has been unwavering throughout his stellar career and we are very grateful that he has reaffirmed this commitment to professional golf in South Africa by helping us to grow our national Open.”

Els’ two charities – Els for Autism and the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation – as well as the SA Golf Development Board’s Chapter in Ekurhuleni have been named the beneficiary charities of the tournament.

Els said, from his US base in Florida, that he is very honoured to have been offered this role.

“I accepted without hesitation as the South African Open Championship is a tournament with incredible history and has featured strongly throughout my career,” Els said.

“I look forward to working together with the Sunshine Tour to achieve our shared vision of growing the SA Open, so that it can once again take its rightful place among the most prestigious tournaments in world golf.

“Whatever successes South African golfers have enjoyed around the world, none of us forgets the incredible start we had in our careers by having tournaments like the SA Open to play in on the Sunshine Tour.

“It is therefore imperative that we do our best to ensure that South Africa’s flagship events are sustainable for generations to come and I am delighted to be able to give my full support to achieving this.

“I have no doubt that my fellow countrymen who play on the European and PGA Tours feel the same way and I look forward to them joining me in working towards these goals.”

Cllr Mondli Gungubele, Mayor of Ekurhuleni, where Els spent his formative years as a young golfing phenom, added, “As the host sponsor of the 104th South African Open Championship, we are delighted that one of Ekurhuleni’s most famous sons has agreed to take on this role and we look forward to welcoming him back once again to the City of Ekurhuleni.”

Written and released by the Sunshine Tour; edited by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.

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