According to a statement from the Sunshine Tour, professional golfers who received their cards at the Sunshine Tour 2011 Qualifying School and those who finished from 71st to 150th on the 2010 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit, are eligible to play in the new tournament.
The top 30 at the Vusi Ngubeni Strokeplay that was played in Johannesburg in January would also be considered in the new tour.
However, Zimbabwe has few golfers who finished from 71 to 150 in last year’s Sunshine Tour Order of Merit. Sean Farrell, Ignatius Mketekete, Mike Curtis and Ryan Cairns are some of the players who finished below 71 on the Order of Merit and are eligible to play.
Stonehage will sponsor the Sunshine Big Easy Tour.
“Stonehage is absolutely delighted to be sponsoring the Sunshine Big Easy Tour. Stonehage has supported the development of golf through Ernie [Els] and his Foundation for over 10 years.
“We are proud to be involved with the Big Easy Tour at its inception stage and to have the opportunity to contribute further to the development of the game,” Stonehage chief executive officer, Giuseppe Ciucci, said.
“We hope this commitment will allow Stonehage to continue to assist with the discovery and development of real golfing talent under tournament conditions.”
The Big Easy Tour gets underway at Crown Mines Golf Club in South Africa on March 24, and it will be the first of 10 events, which will be followed by a Tour Championship at a venue to be announced at a later date.
Sunshine Tour commissioner Gareth Tindall said, “As the Sunshine Tour continues to grow, we need to make sure we give more opportunities to develop skills in the professional game to a wider range of players, especially those who perhaps haven’t had many opportunities to excel in amateur golf ranks.
The Big Easy Tour presented by Stonehage provides exactly that.”
The Tour is named after three-time Major winner Els in recognition of his continued commitment to the development of the game in southern Africa.
Each tournament will be played over two rounds, and, to begin with, all events will be in the Gauteng area, where the majority of golfers at whom the series is aimed live. That way, travel and accommodation costs would be alleviated for those players.
Each event will have R100 000 in prize money, with the Big Easy Tour Championship having a purse of R250 000.