Kelapile back in the mix at Vusi Q-School
The Sunshine Tour’s 2013 season gets underway on Tuesday with the first of two qualifying schools as the Vusi Ngubeni Q-School tees off at Observatory Golf Club.
Named for the late Vusi Ngubeni, a Sunshine Tour board member and a director of Eskom who was killed in a 2003 motor accident, the 72-hole event was originally conceived as an opportunity for previously disadvantaged players to get onto the Sunshine Tour.
That was a cause which was particularly close to the heart of Ngubeni, a natural sportsman who achieved a five-handicap after only a short period of playing golf. He actively endeavoured to produce positive solutions to the issues created by a lack of access. He was also involved in the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation, identifying and assisting promising young black golfers.
Last year’s event was won by Alpheus Kelapile by two strokes from Jack Kutumane, with Irvin Mazibuko in third, Allister de Kock in fourth and Elvis Sithebe in fifth.
The 28-year-old Kelapile had a quiet year in 2012, with his best performance coming on the tough Royal Johannesburg and Kensington East Course layout on the Sunshine Big Easy Tour presented by Stonehage when he finished in a share of sixth in July.
Last year’s event also saw the emergence of Thabo Maseko, who finished in a share of sixth, and he will be looking to consolidate his rookie year experiences into a good 2013.
And Soweto’s Sipho Bujela, who made history as the first black amateur exempt from qualifying when he teed it up in the South African Open Championship in November, will playing as he seeks to turn professional.
The leading 15 players after play is completed in the Vusi Ngubeni Q-School on Friday will make it into category 13 on the Sunshine tour, while the players finishing in positions 16-40 will gain membership on the Big Easy Tour.