Sun City – It has thrilled some of the
best golfers in the world, from Jack Nicklaus and Seve Ballesteros to Tiger
Woods and Ernie Els. And South Africa’s professional sportsmen are just as in
awe of the Gary Player Country Club.
When they teed it up in Monday’s first round of the Sanlam Cancer
Challenge here, both Herschelle Gibbs and Breyton Paulse agreed that as an
iconic sporting arena the Gary Player Country Club is right up there alongside
Lord’s, the MCG and the cricket and rugby grounds at Newlands.
Gibbs and Paulse are part of the VIPs and sporting celebrities who
annually support South Africa’s biggest charity golf tournament.
At the nearby Lost City Golf Course on Monday, the over 100
amateurs who have qualified from around Southern Africa in their various
handicap divisions played in their first round of the 36-hole National Finals.
This is the 23rd year of an event that annually raises much-needed
funds for the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) for research and
treatment of cancer. And this year, the 35 863 golfers who played in 780 club
competitions since March have helped to raise a record R3.5 million.
“It’s such a worthy cause and it’s just great to be here and
support that,” said Gibbs, who is making his debut in this event and says the
opportunity to play the Gary Player Country Club course made his decision to
accept the invitation a very easy one.
“It’s just great to play this golf course. It’s in incredible
condition again and it never disappoints. Newlands was always special for me
because it is so picturesque and the setting is just phenomenal. But when it
comes to being in awe of a place, I’d say you have the same feeling here as you
get at a Lord’s or the MCG. It’s very inspirational, and for me the Gary Player
Country Club is no different.”
Paulse likened the experience of the Gary Player Country Club to
that of playing rugby at Newlands.
“The Gary Player Country Club is really a special place. For me, a
rugby stadium that brings up the same fondness for a place is Newlands. This
course has got great character and a great atmosphere during big tournaments.
It’s got something unique about it, and it just stays a fantastic golf course.”
Paulse took time out of his busy Rugby World Cup schedule to support
“I wouldn’t miss this for the world. This creates so much
awareness for cancer and provides the financial support needed. It’s always
satisfying to see so many people put so much into this event and make it a
success every year. But after the Rugby World Cup I’ll put some serious work
into my game again and hopefully get back to taking money off Herschelle.”
For more information on the Sanlam Cancer Challenge, go to www.sanlamcancerchallenge.co.za