Early foreign dominance at Africa Open
The overseas dominance of this summer’s Sunshine Tour co-sanctioned events continued in the first round of the Africa Open at East London Golf Club on Thursday as European golfers filled 10 of the top 13 places on the leaderboard.
Ireland’s Kevin Phelan and Englishman Matt Ford shot five-under-par 67s to put themselves at the top of that leaderboard, one stroke ahead of five golfers on four-under-par, with another six competitors on three-under.
From its humble beginning as a regular Sunshine Tour event in 2008, the Africa Open has blossomed to a fully co-sanctioned tournament with the European Tour.
The championship has enjoyed unwavering support from its sponsors, in particular from the principal supporters Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality and the Eastern Cape Parks & Tourism Agency, since its inception. This sustained backing has seen the championship blossom and become one of the most prominent tournaments on the annual international golf schedule and one of the most esteemed tournaments on the African golfing calendar.
A proudly South African winner's list includes defending champion Thomas Aiken (2014), Darren Fichardt (2013), Louis Oosthuizen (2012 & 2011), Charl Schwartzel (2010), Retief Goosen (2009) and Shaun Norris (2008).
Not surprisingly, South Africa's unbroken record in the championship has added to the prestige and allure of the Africa Open. Although the players compete for the European Tour membership, world ranking points, Race to Dubai and Investec Cup points on offer, the chance to be the one to break the South African stranglehold in this premier championship has become the biggest draw card for the international players and rising stars who annually flock to the Eastern Cape.