South African professional golf has received a major boost with the announcement that the Joburg Open will make its return to the Sunshine Tour and European Tour schedules this November, thereby ushering in the country's return to international golf following the coronavirus-enforced lockdown.
The 2020 Joburg Open will be played from 19-22 November at Randpark Golf Club with support from the City of Johannesburg, and with a prize fund of R19.5 million.
It will be the first international men's golf tournament on South African fairways in nine months, and a timely boost for the South African economy as it emerges from the lockdown.
It will also be the first of a run of tournaments co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and European Tour this summer, with further announcements to come.
Councillor Geoffrey Makhubo, the Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, commented via a press statement: "We are delighted to announce the return of this world-class golf tournament to our world-class African city. Since the inception of this tournament in 2007, our vision has been that the Joburg Open must benefit all the residents of Johannesburg.
"Now more than ever, as our economy requires a boost following the Covid-19 lockdown and with our President publicly calling for a new business stimulus, the return of the Joburg Open is perfectly timed to contribute significantly towards this cause as it brings a major international event to our city once again."
The Joburg Open was last played in 2017 before the City of Johannesburg agreed to support the Sunshine Tour and absorb the event into the South African Open Championship for the duration of the latter's hosting in Johannesburg.
The tournament first teed off in 2007 and boasts an impressive array of past champions including major winner Charl Schwartzel and multiple European Tour champions Branden Grace, George Coetzee, Andy Sullivan and Darren Fichardt.
The last tournament in 2017 was also the first significant victory for India's Shubhankar Sharma and his emergence as one of the new stars of world golf.
"We are extremely pleased to welcome back the Joburg Open to our schedule in what is also a momentous moment for South African professional golf as we also welcome back international competition to our fairways after a lengthy break," said Thomas Abt, commissioner of the Sunshine Tour.
"I'd like to the thank the Mayor and the City of Johannesburg for so graciously supporting us for the duration of the South African Open's hosting in Johannesburg, and we are delighted that we can announce the return of a much-loved tournament amongst the residents of Johannesburg.
"I'd also like to thank the Sunshine Tour Board, our sponsors, partners and the European Tour for their support. My special thanks go to our Chairman, Johann Rupert, who has been instrumental in terms of the strength of our partnership with the European Tour, and also our Executive Director, Selwyn Nathan, who has worked tirelessly with us to achieve this momentous restart of our international schedule."
European Tour CEO Keith Pelley added: "I am delighted to see the Joburg Open back on our schedule this year. We have a wonderful relationship with the Sunshine Tour stretching back over many years and this co-sanctioned tournament is another example of that.
"I want to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to Johann Rupert, Thomas Abt, Selwyn Nathan and everyone at the Sunshine Tour for their commitment in making this happen, in addition to the Executive Mayor and the City of Johannesburg for their help and support."
- Sunshine Tour