This week’s Mangaung Open could be the scene of Challenge Tour history as JC Ritchie continues his winning streak as the $250,000 tournament kicks off on Thursday at Bloemfontein Golf Club and Schoeman Park Golf Club.
Ritchie has arrived in Bloemfontein as the best golfer on tour with consecutive wins at last week’s Bain’s Whiskey Cape Town Open and Jonsson Workwear Open.
A third consecutive win would be a first in Challenge Tour history and would also automatically earn him promotion to the DP World Tour.
“I thought about taking a week off this week to rest, but now that I’m warm, I’ll keep playing and see if I’ll be blessed with another win,” said Ritchie.
“I will get through this week as calmly as I can and get my energy levels back up, because there are still a lot of events to come. These Challenge Tour events on the Sunshine Tour are life changing for us. Previously, the chances for South Africans to get on the DP World Tour were quite limited.
“You had the big co-sanctioned tournaments and then the qualifying school. For us to have one more foot in the door and a few more stepping stones to climb with this Challenge Tour series is life changing for us. †
Ritchie is currently first in the Challenge Tour Road to Mallorca rankings. If he doesn’t claim another win this week, a top 20 finish at the end of the season will also earn him DP World Tour playing privileges.
That is a goal that Wilco Nienaber is also pursuing after he narrowly sipped last season. Nienaber is back in his hometown and will find plenty of local support as he looks for a second Challenge Tour title after winning last year’s Dimension Data Pro-Am. Last year he narrowly missed a place in the top 20 and finished 21st†
Keenan Davidse will also look to continue with his fourth-place finish at last week’s Jonsson Workwear Open in Durban, which has moved him to the top 10 in the Road to Mallorca rankings.