THE European Challenge Tour and the Sunshine Tour have confirmed the postponement of next month’s three co-sanctioned tournaments in South Africa, which will now be played later in the season.
Following thorough consultation with the medical teams from both Tours, it has been agreed to reschedule the three co-sanctioned events, that were due to take place in February, until later in the year.
An announcement will be made shortly regarding the tournament and its venue.
It will be followed by the Cape Town Open at Royal Cape Golf Club, from April 29-May 2, and then the Dimension Data Pro-Am at Fancourt Golf Estate, from May 6-9.
The spread of the more virulent strain of the COVID-19 virus in South Africa has forced the two tours’ hand – with a sizeable contingent of the field coming from the UK, which also has experienced a new strain of the coronavirus, which has killed nearly two million victims across the world.
Challenge Tour head Jamie Hodges said: “The decision to postpone these events follows consultation with all stakeholders – and was made with the health and well-being of all players and staff as our absolute priority.
“I want to express our thanks to the Sunshine Tour, and each of the tournament venues, sponsors and stakeholders for their flexibility and understanding of this situation.
“We greatly appreciate our partnership with our friends at the Sunshine Tour and look forward to co-sanctioning the three events later this year.”
Sunshine Tour commissioner Thomas Abt said: “In light of the current worldwide increase in COVID-19 cases – and after consultation with our own health experts and GolfRSA and its Risk Mitigation Strategy – we believe it is the most responsible course of action to postpone these tournaments.
“The safety of our members as well as our staff is our primary concern. I’d like to thank the Challenge Tour as well as our own Sunshine Tour Board of Directors and sponsors for their guidance, patience and understanding amidst what remains a very fluid situation for world golf.”
Sunshine Tour regular Ritchie finished two shots of teenage prodigy Wilco Nienaber, who would make such a big impression on the European Tour later in the summer.
Sweden’s Anton Karlsson recorded his maiden win in Cape Town, with Hampshire’s former Amateur Champion Harry Ellis producing his best result of what would become a curtailed season, with a fourth place, just behind Sussex’s Toby Tree.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout announced his intentions for the year with victory in the Dimnesion Data Pro-am at Fancourt in the final leg of the Challenge Tour’s 2020 South African Swing.
The South African went on to win the Andalucia Masters, at Valderrama in June, before turning to his homeland to end 2020 with back-to-back victories in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek, and then the South African Open, at Sun City.