Cream of SA’s seniors primed for Humewood challenge

Inaugural Nelson Mandela Bay Classic tees off on Tuesday

James Kingston is one of the favourites at Humewood Golf Course this week
TOP-CLASS GOLF: James Kingston is one of the favourites at Humewood Golf Course this week
Image: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images

The cream of SA’s senior golfers will demonstrate their credentials when the inaugural Nelson Mandela Bay Classic takes place at the famed Humewood links course from Tuesday to Thursday (May 11 to 13).

The tournament is part of the Sunshine Senior Tour (for players over 50) and chief operations manager Neville Clarke is thrilled that Gqeberha has been included in the tour’s schedule.

After four years of negotiations, Clarke said an agreement with the NMB municipality had made it possible for the tournament to take place.

“A contract has been signed and it’s a brilliant development for both parties,” he said.

“It is important to have Port Elizabeth on our schedule as it fits with our Endangered Wildlife Trust programme for contributing to the conservation of animals charity, as well as other charities.

“In turn, PE needs a large golf event on the iconic Humewood links course, with TV providing the necessary exposure for tourism in the region and economic development.

“There is so much activity in and around the city that can translate into wonderful visits for local and international guests.”

There is sure to be plenty of competition in the race to land the inaugural NMB Classic trophy, with a strong field lined up for the tournament.

James Kingston, fresh from his win at the SA Senior Open in Plettenberg Bay, stands out as an obvious contender, but will have to deal with challenges from players such as Mark McNulty, Chris Davison and Doug McGuigan.

The 55-year-old Kingston, with 16 professional wins under his belt, endorsed Clarke’s comments about playing at Humewood, recalling with fondness the days of the Goodyear Classic event held during the eighties.

“This is one of the places we love coming to play,” Kingston said, “and I have many good memories of the Goodyear Classic.

“This true links course forces you into a different style of play and if the wind starts blowing, it can get really challenging.

“I know the course has changed a bit over the years and I think they have done a wonderful job in reshaping some of the greens, which were very small and often an upside-down saucer shape back in the day.

“We are really looking forward to the challenge of playing the links again.”

While players are past their prime and some of them do not play fulltime, Kingston said there was still a strong competitive edge to their golf.

“For example, on the Champions Tour (in the US) I was watching last night there were seven former major champions, which just shows the high standard of the players,” he said.

“OK, I admit in South Africa we are not at that level, but there are some very good players out there and they all want to do well.

“The Seniors Tour is about reviving friendships which were formed on the pro tour so many years ago.

“It’s a great part of our golf, but the guys also have a competitive spirit and always go out there to give it their best shot.

“We are really looking forward to testing ourselves at the Humewood links.”

- Sunshine Senior Tour

 

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