Johannesburg - The Joburg Open will make history as it becomes the first tri-sanctioned golf tournament on South African soil, and it also features a new date and venue on the Sunshine Tour this year.
At the launch of the R16.5 million ($1.2 million) tournament at Soweto Country Club on Wednesday, Sunshine Tour executive director Selwyn Nathan announced that the Joburg Open will be played at Randpark Golf Club over two courses from December 7-10 and will be tri-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour, European Tour and Asian Tour.
Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club, the traditional home of the tournament, is undergoing extensive upgrades to its East Course.
Former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen has also confirmed that he will play in the Joburg Open as it marks a new era in its history.
“I’m very excited to be supporting the growth of what is one of the premier tournaments in world golf. I’m a proud winner on all three tours and look forward to playing in Johannesburg again,” said Oosthuizen.
The tournament will once again form part of the Open Championship’s International Qualifying, offering three spots into the major for the leading three finishers in the top 10 who are not already exempt.
The Joburg Open will also be the penultimate event on the Asian Tour schedule and will be crucial in the race for the Order of Merit title.
“This is an exciting time for the growth of the Joburg Open and we welcome our new partners, the Asian Tour, in this endeavour,” said Nathan.
“The strength of the Sunshine Tour has always been the excellent relationships we have with the other major tours of the world and this allows us to keep creating opportunities for our members and global value for our sponsors.”
The field for this December’s Joburg Open will be 240 professionals, including 30 Asian Tour members, four amateur invites, and then the remainder to be shared between the European Tour and Sunshine Tour.
European Tour chief executive officer Keith Pelley also welcomed the growth of the tournament.
“We have strong relationships with both the Sunshine Tour and the Asian Tour and this is another opportunity to showcase how this can be used to drive golf forward in the region and to ensure a stronger product that benefits all.
“We have had tremendous success tri-sanctioning with both tours before this, and so we look forward to building on this with a tournament which will form an integral part of the exciting opening to our 2018 schedule. We sincerely thank the City of Joburg for its continued support of this event.”
Asian Tour chief executive Josh Burack was delighted to welcome the Joburg Open on the Asian Tour schedule.
“On behalf of our talented members, we are proud to sanction the Joburg Open for the first time in the tournament’s history. We have a strong partnership with the Sunshine Tour and European Tour and we will continue to work together to develop the game around the globe.
“We are excited to add the Joburg Open on our robust schedule and the presence of the Asian Tour in 18 different countries this season shows the appeal and growth of the Tour.”
Herman Mashaba, executive mayor of the City of Joburg, said the changes reflect the Joburg Open’s original strategy to keep positioning the city to a global audience.
“We are thrilled to welcome on board the Asian Tour and excited at the new markets this affords us in terms of coverage of the Joburg Open. Our aim from the start with this tournament was to showcase all that Johannesburg has to offer, and to now include Asia in this is a big step forward for us.”