The Sunshine Tour has strengthened its global partnership with the DP World Tour with increased prize money and the announcement of two new tournaments and four Challenge Tour events on the schedule in 2023.
The two new DP World Tour events will begin with the $1.5-million SDC Championship to be played at St Francis Links in the Eastern Cape from 16-19 March.
SDC has grown its commitment to the Sunshine Tour following its debut as a sponsor of a Challenge Tour co-sanctioned event in 2022 and will now be a title partner of events on both the DP World Tour and Challenge Tour schedules in South Africa in 2023.
This will be followed by the $1.5-million Jonsson Workwear Open, which will be played at Steyn City in Johannesburg from 23-26 March. Jonsson Workwear has also grown its commitment to the Sunshine Tour from a Challenge Tour event in 2022 to a major DP World Tour event in 2023. This also marks the second year that Steyn City will host a DP World Tour event.
Both these tournaments will take on even greater significance on the global stage as they offer Ryder Cup points to the European professionals competing in a Ryder Cup year.
They join this week’s Joburg Open at Houghton Golf Club, the Investec South African Open Championship (1-4 December), the Alfred Dunhill Championship (8-11 December) and the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open (15-18 December) to make it six co-sanctioned events between the Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour on the latter’s 2023 Race to Dubai.
“We are delighted to further strengthen our longstanding relationship with the Sunshine Tour by adding these two new co-sanctioned tournaments that significantly enhance what has always been a popular destination for our members,” said Keith Pelley, chief executive officer of the DP World Tour.
“We have worked very hard with the Sunshine Tour to develop the global pathway that we now offer and we’re seeing the fruits of this with the exciting new talent emerging from the Sunshine Tour and earning a place on the DP World Tour.”
The Sunshine Tour will also host its own R2-million tournament before the start of the two new DP World Tour events from 9-12 March purely for Sunshine Tour members, the details of which will be announced in the near future.
The four Challenge Tour events that have been confirmed for 2023 all feature significant increases in prize money and each with a field of 156 professionals.
The Challenge Tour swing in South Africa will start with the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open from 2-5 February at Royal Cape Golf Club, where JC Ritchie won the last two editions of an event that helped him to gain his DP World Tour card for this season. The prize money for this tournament has been increased to $350,000.
The Challenge Tour will then travel to Fancourt for the popular Dimension Data Pro-Am from 9-12 February where the prize money has been increased to R7 million – with an additional R300,000 for the pro-am component of the tournament.
Since 1996, the Dimension Data Pro-Am has been one of the flagship events on the Sunshine Tour and in the last three years alone it has helped shape the international careers of champions Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Wilco Nienaber.
It then moves inland for the second SDC Open from 16-19 February at Zebula Golf Estate and Spa, featuring prize money of $350,000. This will be followed by the new $350,000 Nelson Mandela Bay Championship at the links of Humewood Golf Club from 23-26 February, which brings international golf back to one of South Africa’s celebrated courses and a five-time host of the Investec South African Open Championship.
“These events provide our members with valuable playing opportunities at a time of the year when it is difficult to stage events in Europe and I am pleased that through our ever-evolving relationship with the Sunshine Tour we are able to begin our season in South Africa for the fourth year running,” said Jamie Hodges, head of Challenge Tour.
“We have listened to feedback from our members and worked closely with Thomas Abt and his team to identify the correct events to co-sanction and we are therefore excited to start the 2023 Road to Mallorca season in Cape Town in February.”
After the four co-sanctioned events with the Challenge Tour, the Sunshine Tour season will conclude with the Limpopo Championship from 30 March to 2 April at Euphoria Golf Estate with an increased prize fund of R2-million, the R2-million Stella Artois Players Championship from 13-16 April at Dainfern Golf Estate, and the R2-million Tour Championship at Serengeti Estates from 20-23 April.
The DP World Tour and the Sunshine Tour last year announced a significant extension to their existing long-term partnership which has already spanned more than a quarter of a century.