South African PGA Championship Back in Action


A total of 60 players made it through Monday's pre-qualifying round, held at Crown Mines and Observatory golf clubs, for this week's South African PGA Championship.
At the Observatory Golf Club, Switzerland's Andre Bossert and Dawie Stander led the qualifying with rounds of five-under par 67. Greg Jacobs finished second at four-under par on a day when 73 was enough to make it into the main draw of the SAPGA Championship.
Michael du Toit was the leading qualifier at Crown Mines Golf Club. Du Toit carded a five-under par 67, while Alan Michell and John Parkinson both finished a shot back. An exemption into the tournament has been granted to 12 of the country's leading club professionals.
The SAPGA Championship tees off at the Woodhill Country Club on Thursday. The tournament, and 76 years of its illustrious history, was reinstated on the Sunshine Tour schedule this year.
In the first of a three-year contract with Woodhill, the SAPGA returns to the local golf calendar after a one-year absence due to a lack of sponsorship. Ernie Els won the last SAPGA at Houghton Golf Club in 1999, adding his name to a list of past champions including Gary Player, Bobby Locke, Nick Price, Corey Pavin, Tom Weiskopf, David Feherty and Mark McNulty.
This also marks the first time since the mid-50's that Pretoria will host a major tournament. 'Pretoria has always had a great golfing community supporting professional golf and we look forward to bringing one of our major championships to the area,' Louis Martin, the chief executive of the Southern Africa Tour, said.
McNulty has withdrawn from this year's event, along with Zimbabwean countryman Tony Johnstone, taking a well-deserved rest. But the field is still an attractive one, with the likes of Simon Hobday and several of the winners on the winter portion of the tour.
Hennie Otto will be attempting to claim his first major tournament after coming desperately close in the South African Open, when he faltered on the final day. Other contenders in the field include Desvonde Botes, the South African Masters champion two years ago and winner of the European Tour's Qualifying School; Trevor Immelman, winner of the Vodacom Players' Championship in December.