The 2005 South African Airways Open will be staged in Durban next January when the country’s most prestigious golf event returns to Durban Country Club for a record 16th time in the Club’s history. First played in 1893, the Championship, which bears the distinction of being the second oldest national Open after The Open Championship will take place one week later than its usual calendar date over the period of namely 20 - 23 January 2005.
Southern Africa PGA Tour Commissioner Johan Immelman was delighted to announce the new venue, commenting “We are really looking forward to returning to Durban Country Club for several reasons, not least because of the Club’s rich history in hosting the Championship but also because Durban have always been such an excellent and supportive host in the past.”
“As the driving force of professional golf in South Africa, it is also incumbent on us to rotate our premier event and to give South Africa’s golfing enthusiasts the opportunity to watch and enjoy the very best players from around the world.”
Oyama Mabandla, Acting CEO of South African Airways commented: “We are truly excited that the 2005 Championship will be held in Durban as this will be the first time since our involvement that the Championship has been staged in other parts of South Africa.”
“South African Airways remain committed to supporting this great sporting event and using it to showcase South Africa to the world. Television pictures from the 2004 South African Airways Open were broadcast to 120+ million homes across 27 international markets and this exposure is unique in South Africa to this Championship.”
“South African Airways are also delighted to be working with Tourism KwaZulu Natal in promoting South Africa and look forward to working closely with the City of Durban who will be a presenting partner of the 2005 Championship.”
Carel Nieuwoudt, President of the South African Golf Association commented: “Durban Country Club deserves to host the South African Airways Open Championship in 2005. The course is well manicured and picturesque, yet forces players to be alert at all times, with mistakes receiving stern punishment.”
“South African Airways has now established itself as a sponsor that cares about golf in our country and the SAGA hopes to continue this relationship well into the future.”
PGA European Tour Executive Director Ken Schofield saluted the decision to return to Durban Country Club. “The European Tour is delighted to see the South African Airways Open making a return to the world famous Durban Country Club, where our Members have enjoyed considerable success in the past - most notably Ernie Els, when he won the title there in 1998.”
“I am sure that Trevor Immelman - who has been a wonderful champion for the past two years at Erinvale Golf Club - will look forward to a new challenge as he looks to defend his title for the second consecutive season.”
South African Airways is also delighted to acknowledge the support of various partners and suppliers including Telkom Business, BMW South Africa, LG Electronics and Southern Sun whose involvement and contribution is invaluable to the success of the Championship.
Trevor Immelman will return to Durban in January to attempt to join an elite group of South African golfers who have won the national Open on three or more occasions. Such players include Gary Player, Ernie Els and Bobby Locke.
Prize money for the 2005 South African Airways Open, co-sanctioned once again with the PGA European Tour will be GBP500,000 and a host of international players from around the world will tee up in search of the coveted honour of being the national champion of South Africa.
The last player to win the South African Open at Durban Country Club was Tim Clark, who became the first qualifier in the event’s history to go on and win the title. The South African Open has a history of producing low scores when it travels to Durban Country Club with Clark’s four round score of 269 being the second lowest in South African Open history, two behind 1993 champion Tony Johnstone’s record lowest winning total of 267, set at the same layout in 1993.
South Africa’s greatest ever golfer, Gary Player, won three of his 13 South African Open titles at Durban Country Club in 1956, 1969 and 1976.