A day after the US PGA Tour announced it was investing in South African golf development with support for the Soweto Country Club’s rebirth, Keenan Davidse made an equally positive statement for the local game.
The Cape golfer opened at the Joburg Open with an eight-under-par 63 on the par-71 Bushwillow course at Randpark Golf Club to lead a major tri-sanctioned tournament for the first time in his career.
Davidse is one stroke clear at the top of the leaderboard in this Sunshine Tour, European Tour and Asian Tour sanctioned event.
And he is pretty comfortable there as well at the end of a year in which he has showed signs of this kind of performance with finishes of tied fifth in the Zambia Sugar Open; 10th in the Sun Wild Coast Sun Challenge; and tied second, fourth and tied fourth in the Vodacom Origins of Golf tournaments at Arabella Country Estate, Zimbali and Simola, respectively.
“I’ve worked very hard. It’s always nice leading a big tournament, and especially the Joburg Open. It’s a good feeling,” said Davidse, who represents the collective hopes of a group of players known as the Gary Player Class of 2017-2018.
This is the Tour’s main development squad for historically disadvantaged pro golfers.
It is the professional arm of a development structure that benefits from the South African Golf Development Board and the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation.
But Davidse might argue he has been given an opportunity to show his talent. And feels the same about his fellow Gary Player Class professionals.
“All of the golfers in the Gary Player Class can play. Most of them are very underrated. It’s a case of whether they are given the opportunities to play or not.
“If the opportunity isn’t there, then they cannot show their true potential.”
He’ll play the Firethorn course in Friday’s second round, seen to be the tougher of the two courses used for the first two rounds of an event that has one of the biggest fields on tour.