News24.com | Sunshine Tour planning new schedule, looking at mid-August restart

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JC Ritchie

JC Ritchie

Johan Rynners/Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images

  • Sunshine Tour commissioner Selwyn Nathan revealed that they have plans to get the 2020/21 season underway but it could take weeks.
  • The Sunshine Tour would’ve entered its ‘African swing’ but all activity has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Nathan stated that if government decides to ease certain restrictions like travelling, they could start in mid-August.

The Sunshine Tour has yet to announce its schedule for the 2020/21 season, with Tour Commissioner Selwyn Nathan confirming they are discussing a plan for a possible restart.

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc in the South African sporting calendar with all activity and leagues suspended.

Social golf in South Africa was given the green light by the government to restart on 13 June as several golf courses around the country reopened.

The Sunshine Tour’s 2019/20 season ended in March, with JC Ritchie winning the Tour’s Order of Merit.

Usually in South Africa’s winter, the Sunshine Tour would enter in an African swing, which included tournaments in Zambia, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Swaziland.

However, with the borders in South Africa currently closed, the Sunshine Tour has been scrambling to get any feasible schedule on paper. 

“Yes, we’ve got some plans. What we are hoping to do is get some answers from government and health authorities in South Africa to see if there’s an opportunity for us to start sometime mid-August,” Nathan told Sport24 on Monday.

“Now is not a good time at all if you can’t interact with anybody. So we’re hoping over the next six or seven weeks that things change and once we get a go-ahead from health authorities.”

On Monday, the PGA Tour confirmed that South Africa’s very own Dylan Frittelli became the fourth golfer to test positive for coronavirus since the Tour resumed on 11 June. Later in the day, American Harris English became the fifth PGA player to test positive for Covid-19.

Meanwhile, the European Tour announced its revised 2020 schedule with a ‘UK swing’, which is expected to get underway from 22 July in the form of the British Masters.

The Sunshine Tour admitted it could do something similar with a ‘Johannesburg swing’ leg.

“I don’t see an opportunity for us to start playing events in the next five to six weeks,” said Nathan.

“We might consider – if we can’t go to Zimbabwe or Kenya – doing something in Johannesburg in a bubble-like way like they’ve done on the European Tour. We need to wait for the opportunity in order for us to make any decisions.”

This could also be hard on Sunshine Tour international members, who might not be able to travel and compete in local tournaments. 

“What we need to do is hopefully have a calendar that has enough time to deal with things like travelling golfers to self-isolate when they arrive,” continued Nathan.

“The safety of the players and those involved in the tournament… it’s something that we need to do correctly especially when if it can potentially put people in harm’s way.”

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