WGC coup for South Africa

The Sunshine Tour will host a World Golf Championships (WGC) event in South Africa starting next year.

The Sunshine Tour will host a World Golf Championships (WGC) event in South Africa starting next year.

And that’s official.

This exciting golf coup for South Africa was announced on Tuesday by Gareth Tindall, the commissioner of the Sunshine Tour, following extensive meetings during the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club last week between members of the International Federation of PGA Tours of which the Sunshine Tour is a founder member.
While the exact dates and the venue for the country’s first WGC event has still to be confirmed, what is certain is that the tournament will feature only the top 70 players on the Official World Golf Ranking list at a cut-off date to be agreed to..

Because it is to be closely linked to building awareness of poverty and the HIV/Aids pandemic in Africa, it will be known as the Tournament of Hope.

“This is, without doubt, the most significant milestone in the history of professional golf in South Africa,” a buoyant Tindall said on his return from Augusta.

“It is something that we as on the Sunshine Tour have been working on for a long time and the unanimous support that we have received from the other professional Tours around the world confirms the major standing of our players and the Sunshine Tour in world golf.

“What is even more significant is that we have the commitment that we will host this World Golf Championships event for a period of five years. That has enormously positive implications for the game and for our country as a whole.”

Also coming out of the meetings was the fact that the dates of the South African Open Championship and the Alfred Dunhill Championship will be swapped so that the SA Open will no longer clash with The Presidents Cup, set to held in Australia from November 16-21.

This will clear the way for defending champion Ernie Els, new Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and at least three other South Africans in line for the International team to take part in both events.

“The International team for this year’s Presidents Cup is likely to feature at least five South Africans,” said Tindall, “so we wanted to ensure that they were given the opportunity to play in both events and we are delighted that we were able to reach this agreement. I must pay tribute to our long-time sponsor, Alfred Dunhill, for agreeing to the compromise.”

The WGC events were designed to create a group of golf tournaments with a high global profile by bringing the leading golfers from different Tours together on a more regular basis, rather than just for the four Major championships.

At the 1996 Presidents Cup, golf’s five world governing bodies – the PGA Tour, European Tour, Japan Golf Tour, PGA Tour of Australasia and the Sunshine Tours – formed the International Federation of PGA Tours and reached agreement on new events..

Since the inaugural WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Carlsbad, California in February 1999, World Golf Championships have been contested on five continents and in 10 countries.

The first three events, the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, the WGC-Cadillac Championship and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational all began in 1999 and are cuirrently all played on US courses ,

The Bridgestone Invitational is the direct successor of the World Series of Golf, which began in 1976.

In April 2009, it was announced that the HSBC Champions, first held in 2005 and based in China, had been awarded World Golf Championships status.

Three of the four WGC events exceed the Majors in prize money, while the HSBC Champions has a top prize comparable to that of the Majors.