The S.A. Open - second only to the British Open ' will resume its position as the top event in professional golf on the Sunshine Tour and is scheduled to be played in Durban Jan 10-13, 2002.
Announcing the event-saving sponsorship on behalf of S.A.s top-selling Scotch whisky in Cape Town today, Dries van der Sandt, Marketing Manager of Bells Extra Special Old Scotch Whisky said: We are still awaiting confirmation of some of the players, but believe the sponsorship boost for the prestigious event will assist in drawing all the big names and making it one of the most exciting events on the tour.
Bells is totally committed to golf in South Africa and for many years has supported it on both professional and amateur levels, through the Bells Cup of old and all the current day amateur events sponsorships. Like golf, Scotch whisky is one of Scotlands finest exports and were proud to be able to save the day.
The Bells S.A. Open is the first event on the Sunshine Tour to qualify for flagship recognition from the Official World Golf Ranking body and ranks equally with Europe's PGA Championship as well as the Australia and Japanese Open.
Chief Executive of the Sunshine Tour, Louis Martin said: It is wonderful news for the South African Open that a sponsor of Bell's prominence has chosen to back our flagship event. We are especially pleased to announce that reigning U.S. Open Champion and Europes No. 1 Retief Goosen has confirmed that he will support this event and is looking forward to playing at the magnificent Durban Country Club in January.
Selwyn Nathan, from Open Golf Management, says this event always attracts the best field to its fairways and, in addition to Goosen, discussions are under way with several of South Africas top players.
The decision was taken some years ago that the event should be played in various provinces to give both players and spectators a chance to experience a championship of this size and caliber and to be exposed to the world-class players that the event attracts each year.
In preparation for the event, Durban Country Club, which ranks among the top 10 courses in South Africa and last hosted the event in 1999, is readying its fairways.
President of the South African Golf Association Peter Morris said: Our thanks go to Bells for underwriting the title sponsorship, and who, with the other co-sponsors, are enabling us to continue the tradition of the South African Open Championship.
'Historically, we have enjoyed tremendous support from the Kwazulu Natal supporters and we look forward to welcoming them back to the fairways of Durban Country Club next year in support of local golf.
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