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Steyn City Championship Preview, Picks & Analysis

By: | Mon 14 Mar 2022 | Comments

THE Club at Steyn City, north of Johannesburg, hosts its first major international tournament with the new $1.5 million Steyn City Championship, which makes its debut on the Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour schedule.

“We are very excited to welcome The Club at Steyn City to our co-sanctioned schedule, and to be able to grow our international golf offering with another world-class event at an equally world-class venue,” said Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour.

“We have been discussing ways to develop a relationship with Steyn City and I’m delighted that we can announce this new tournament in partnership with the DP World Tour, and bring yet another major international golf tournament to the City of Johannesburg.”

The Jack Nicklaus-design championship golf course anchors the internationally award-winning Steyn City Parkland Residence north of Fourways, Johannesburg.

The Steyn City Championship will showcase not only a magnificent golf course, but also one of the most talked about residential estates in South Africa - which was recently listed among the world’s top ten estates by wealth intelligence firm New World Wealth – to an international audience.

“It’s tremendously exciting for us to welcome our members and residents to this prestigious event, right on their home ground,” said Giuseppe Plumari, CEO of Steyn City Properties. “We’re equally thrilled to partner with the DP World Tour and Sunshine Tour and open our doors to all attending corporates and, of course, the players.”

And for the second week running JC Ritchie will have huge home support. The South African won back-to-back events on the Sunshine Tour and Challenge Tour at the Jonsson Workwear Open and Cape Town Open and is in the form of his life.

It is worth reflecting on Ritchie’s incredible play at the Workwear Open. On a windy day at Durban Country Club, Ritchie withstood a strong charge from Belgium’s Christopher Mivis and signed for a final round of 71 to win the Workwear Open by six shots on 26 under par.

“I don’t have the words for this,” he said. "I had a hole-in-one, set a course record, had my birthday, broke my lowest score twice, and then won the tournament. I’ve never dreamt of this. This is special."

The Johannesburg golfer went into the final round with a 10-shot lead and having set a 54-hole scoring record on the Challenge Tour of 25 under par. But on a more tricky final day that changed the nature of this golf course, his lead was whittled down to two shots with five holes remaining as Mivis took up the challenge that was offered to the rest of the field.

As Ritchie came through 13 holes at one over for the day, Mivis was eight under through 15 holes. The Belgian made four birdies in five holes over the turn, bogeyed the 12th, and then birdied the 13th, eagled the 14th and birdied the 15th to suddenly have Ritchie in sight for the first time this week.

“I had no idea what was going on until we finished playing the 14th hole. That’s when my girlfriend Sarah came up to me and asked if I’d like to know the scores and I said, ‘Yes’. I was surprised. But I never felt like I was in trouble. I always knew somebody was going to shoot maybe seven under par, and that would still be three short of where I was. I knew I just needed to be level par or under par. I was hitting the ball well enough to not shoot over par. I was a bit nervous but once I settled in to the final round I was one over par and still had the lead by a couple of shots, so that made it easier coming down the stretch to make a couple of good swings and find birdies on the last two holes,” Ritchie said.

Mivis bogeyed his final two holes to settle for second place on 20 under par with a closing 66.

European Tour legend Mark McNulty rates Ritchie highly. “I’ve been watching JC for a while now and he has immense talent. I love his swing and he is a very solid putter. He has it all. I think whether he is able to progress onto either the DP World Tour or on the PGA Tour, he will be very successful,” said McNulty.

And Ritchie is just as eager to make that step up.

“That’s what I’ve been dreaming of and I’m glad I’ve managed to get a step closer than I was last year. Hopefully I can close it out before these Challenge Tour events in South Africa finish. I’ve always felt my game is good enough to win in Europe and I’m good enough to take the step. In golf it comes down to one tournament for everything to change, and it sort of has.” 

Ross Fisher

(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

Once again, there is a strong South African presence, led by Thriston Lawrence, Daniel von Tonder, Dean Burmester, Wilco Nienaber, Zander Lombard, Brandon Stone and George Coetzee. Leading Europeans making the trip include Bernd Wiesberger, JB Hansen, Adri Arnaus, Ross Fisher, Fabrizio Zanotti

Keep an eye on India’s Shubhankar Sharma. Still only 25 years old, he won the Joburg Open in December 2017 before adding the Maybank Challenge two months later. He spent some time trying to make the breakthrough on the PGA Tour and would be the first to admit that he lost his way somewhat. Like so many others before him, Sharma decided to make some swing changes in the quest for extra distance. He has now gone back to what he knows and it is beginning to bear fruit. He finished in a tie for second place at the Abu Dhabi Championship and was tied for 13th at the Kenya Open, a tournament he could have won had it not been for a disappointing third round of 75. But he shrugged it off and bounced back with a closing 69. 

Arnaus is another who continues to make good progress. The Spaniard is an impressive ball striker who needs to improve his short game. Nevertheless, he was tied ninth at the DP World Tour Championship, 20th at the Abu Dhabi Championship, tied ninth at the Ras al Khaimah Classic and tied eighth at the Kenya Open. And he lost out in a playoff at Pecanwood last week to fellow Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal. He is heading in the right direction and is a player to keep an eye on as the season unfolds.

Tournament Winners

This is the first staging of this event.

Course Guide

The Club at Steyn City was designed by Jack Nicklaus and is widely regarded as one of his best courses outside America. It features many elevation changes, 75 bunkers and several water hazards. It is a par 72 measuring a fearsome 7,716 yards.

Form Guide

JC Ritchie arrives here full of confidence, believing that his first DP World Tour title in just around the corner. Adri Arnaus keeps getting himself into contention, is in good form and is ready to win. 

To Win:

JC Ritchie. Ready to make next step

Each Way:

Adri Arnaus. Win cannot be far away

Golfers to Follow:

JC Ritchie. Looking to add a DP World Tour title to his CV

Adri Arnaus. Making real progress

Shubhankar Sharma. Getting back to his best

Thriston Lawrence. Already a winner

Five Outsiders:

Ross Fisher. Terrific ball striker

Wilco Nienaber. Still learning

Daniel von Tonder. Underrated

David Law. Gifted Scot

David Drysdale. Veteran enjoys this part of the world

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Tags: european tour dp world tour


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