Breakthrough for Baldwin in SDC Championship
ST FRANCIS BAY (Eastern Cape) – England’s Matthew Baldwin claimed his first victory in his 200th start on the DP World Tour when he won the SDC Championship, which is co-sanctioned with the Sunshine Tour, by seven strokes at St Francis Links on Sunday.
Baldwin closed with a 68 to win on 18 under par and dedicated his victory to his late stepfather. “It’s been a tough 12 months. My stepdad died last May, and this is for him,” he said.
Spain’s Adri Arnaus took second place on 11 under par with a final round of 67, while Jaco Ahlers finished as the leading South African in tied third place on 10 under par with a final-round 68.
“It’s unbelievable,” a relieved Baldwin said of his win. “It’s my 200th start so I’ve had plenty of opportunities. It’s just an unbelievable feeling right now.”
It was a long weekend of golf for the field, which Baldwin managed superbly. The wind that forced the suspension of the earlier rounds meant the third round had to be carried over into Sunday morning, with Baldwin finishing this with a solid 65 which lifted him to 14 under par overall. The Englishman had a four-stroke lead over Norway’s Kristian Krogh Johannessen going into the final round and was never challenged.
“I played well all week. I was so steady out there and I think that maybe put the pressure on those around me to try and play more attacking golf, and I was fortunate to come out on the right side of it.”
It also comes at a good time for him both professionally and personally.
“It certainly makes the rest of the year more relaxing. I can plan a schedule. I’m also due to get married this year or the next, so I’ll be able to have a couple of weeks off to help plan that which is exciting.”
But the ultimate reward is the confidence this win has brought him.
“It proves a lot to me. It proves that I’m good enough to be out here. I’ve had plenty of doubt and this proves everything to me.” – Michael Vlismas
JC- The event surpassed all my expectations!
Just getting the sponsorship together was a major challenge. I want to personally thank our major partners.
This was a dream come true for me. I love hosting tournaments, from juniors to seniors and everything in between. The members gave up their course and put in long hours as volunteers. I hope the goodwill and good reach that came from the media and television will take St Francis Links to another level!
ADRIAN GARDINER – GIVING BACK
A community vision for the SDC Championship and beyond
ST FRANCIS BAY (Eastern Cape) – Decades ago, a highly successful entrepreneur presented the legendary conservationist Dr Ian Player with a question that kept him up all night. When he came down for breakfast, Dr Player had the answer. This weekend, during the SDC Championship at St Francis Links, that entrepreneur – Adrian Gardiner – is still living out his vision from that discussion.
“My life in conservation and game farms has been built around what Ian said to me. He drilled the importance of community into me, and involving the community in my projects,” says Gardiner, a close friend of golf through his relationship with Ian Player and his legendary brother Gary Player, as well as his friendship with Ernie Els. But it’s as the founder of the Mantis Collection of international privately-owned five-star boutique hotels and eco escapes, starting with the famous Shamwari Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape in the early Nineties, that Gardiner has been able to live out his real passion of using eco-tourism to uplift local communities.
Even his support of the SDC Championship is based on the local community. The R500 000 prize he is offering for the first hole-in-one on the 14th hole on Sunday includes R250 000 going to the player and the other half being donated to the Community Conservation Fund Africa (CCFA) which he founded in partnership with the Accor group in 2018. This same CCFA, in partnership with St Francis Links, has brought 50 youths from the local Sea Vista township to work at the tournament as course marshals and ball spotters.
Such is Gardiner’s passion for community that the name of his business, given to him at that breakfast by Dr Player, reflects this.
“When Ian stayed with me I asked him for a collective name for all of our properties. He came down the next morning and said I’d kept him awake all night as he thought about it. And he came up with Mantis, referencing the praying mantis and the role it plays for the bushmen as it watches over them whenever they travel. We broke this down further as an acronym – Man and Nature Together is Sustainable.”
What started with involving the local community in his first Shamwari project with about 15 employees eventually grew to 80 properties worldwide. And community is at the heart of it all through the CCFA, which describes its operations as “working at the intersection between conservation, ecotourism and community”.
“Africa and wildlife have always been in my DNA,” says Gardiner. “I grew up in Zimbabwe and starting Shamwari was really about going back to my roots in the sense of creating that wild space that I grew up in. I mean, what is Africa without its wildlife?”
A major international golf tournament coming to the Eastern Cape certainly ties into his vision for the province. Gardiner is now working on his next project – the Nyosi Wildlife Reserve, a 2 500-hectare private nature and wildlife reserve that will be the first of its kind between the cities of Gqeberha and Kariega, and with benefits for the informal settlements on its borders. “It cannot work if we don’t empower the local communities. I feel so strongly that if we can show that impact, the Eastern Cape can become a model province for how South Africa can function better.”
And nothing Gardiner does is in isolation from this objective. The youth who are working at this weekend’s SDC Championship will be hosted for an educational day at the Nyosi Wildlife Reserve.
“I believe strongly that if you can change the lives of 50 kids, that’s another 50 changed South Africans.”
This weekend, professional golf is helping in that process as well. – Michael Vlismas
Rest in Peace, Dennis Bruyns!
When Master Professionals were acknowledged by the PGA of South Africa, Dennis Bruyns and those pictured were obvious choices for the first class of nominees. I became friends with Dennis on arrival to SA in 1991 and he was the Chairman of the Board while I was a Board member. My passion was education; he was instrumental in seeing that it was upgraded here by joining forces with the PGA of the UK and Ireland at the time. Dennis was my mentor, my go-to for rules, my guest for special events and my friend for years. Sadly, I spoke little to Dennis in the later years (to my regret) and did not know that his last months were brutal for him, Sharon, his wife and the family. He has now been elected President and Rules Chairman at Pearly Gates CC, where by the way, Ladies and Gentlemen DO NOT NEED RULES. I reached out to Sharon and the family at the recent memorial service at Zwartkops. There were no words that could find to express my regard for her and Dennis. She has been a stalwart in our business, orchestrating so many great tournaments and events!
From Dale Hayes, as he summed Dennis up best.
Rest in peace Dennis Bruyns
My old friend Dennis Bruyns passed away on Saturday. He had been ill for a while and was just not recovering.
He and I had been friends since our junior golf days and were also partners in business.
He was a terrific junior golfer. At age 15, he shot a 65 in the Slazenger Junior at the Windsor Park Golf Club in Durban. At my home course, Zwartkop a year later, I shot 6-under par for 2 rounds and was beaten easily by
He and I travelled to the Orange Bowl Junior in Miami when he was 17 and I was 16. We made so many memories on that trip that I can still remember them vividly, even though that was over 50 years ago. Dennis turned professional and played on the Tour briefly, but then got the job to run the PGA, which at that time looked after both the Club professionals and the Sunshine Tour.
He and I were partners in Compleat Golfer when it started as a “paid-for” magazine. Dennis was the editor and continued in that role even after we sold the magazine to Ramsay, Son & Parker.
He was a PGA Master Professional and one of the few people in South Africa who not only was an expert on the Rules of Golf but also understood why the Rules were composed in the way they were. For the last few years, he lectured at our Golf Management Campus.
My love and best wishes go out to his wife Sharon, his children Richard and Natalie, and to his grandchildren and extended family.
Rest in peace, my friend.
Thank you all for caring about your course – #leading the way! Adopt a hole (AAH) works.
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