South Africa shuffles year-end slate in attempt to ease global golf congestion

ernie els
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Ernie Els won the South Africa Open trophy last December, but will defend it in November this year.
PA Sport and Associated Press


Published: Saturday, January 15, 2011 | 12:31 p.m.

The perennial early-season European Tour events in South Africa have been brought forward in a bid to avoid schedule congestion.

The Alfred Dunhill Championship and South African Open, the two tournaments that have opened the golf season in recent years, will now be played in November rather than December.


The Joburg Open features an oversized field of 210 players from both the European Tour and southern Africa's Sunshine Tour.

With the biennial playing of the World Cup in China and the Presidents Cup in Australia in 2012, the events pushed out the dates of the European Tour's season-ending competitions.

The two co-sanctioned European and Sunshine Tour events have also been swapped around, with the SA Open to be played first from Nov. 17-20, followed by the Dunhill tournament at Leopard Creek, on the border of the Kruger National Park, a week later.

The exhibition Nedbank Golf Challenge will remain its usual slot and be played at Sun City from Dec. 1-4.

"With the Presidents Cup and the World Cup only being played every two years, it means that the 2012 season will see the SA Open Championship and the Alfred Dunhill Championship move back to their December slots," said Sunshine Tour Commissioner Gareth Tindall.

Only a few weeks ago, the schedule for Australia’s biggest events was similarly upended because of the Presidents Cup.

After much debate among events jockeying to be played in the coveted psot the week before the Presidents Cup in Melbourne, the PGA of Australia decided that the Australian Open, likely to be held at a Sydney-area course, will be held from Nov. 10-13. The Australian PGA Championship at Coolum will be played Nov. 24-27, a week after the Presidents Cup. The Australian Masters has been tentatively scheduled for Dec. 1-4.

PGA of Australia Chief Executive Max Garske said that the decision “was made in the best interest of both Australian golf and the PGA Tour of Australasia.”