Siphayi swings with big boys

Meshack Motloung

Meshack Motloung

There is a large black presence in the field for the Vodacom Championship that tees off at the Pretoria Country Club from today until Sunday.

A number of rising black stars have qualified for this lucrative R2,2 million tournament, which is the second last event of the 2006 Sunshine Tour.

It will be a big tournament for the young Siphiwe Siphayi, the order of merit winner during the Ernie Els Tour recently.

Siphayi, an enterprising young black golfer, is one of three youngsters invited to take part in this event.

This is a wonderful week for Siphayi, who will test himself against the professionals for the R348 000 first prize.

Topping the list are Omar Sandys and James Kamte, who are ranked 20 and 21 on the current money list.

Sandys finished second in the Dimension Data event two weeks ago and, with Kamte, can spring a surprise win in this 72-hole tournament.

Lali Stander, Tour media manager, said: "Chances are that either player may find that the tight layout at the Pretoria Country Club suits him and then it is game on.

"Who knows, when all is said and done, it may not be one of the favourites but a rank outsider who walks off with the first Vodacom Championship title and the first place cheque worth R348 700."

Pretoria's Callie Swart, a seasoned campaigner and double Sunshine Tour winner, former Tour School winner and another local favourite, Merrick Bremner, as well as rising black star Toto Thimba, are likely to be in line to win the event.

Also in the running is Ugandan Deo Akope, who made the most of his debut on the Sunshine Tour to book his berth with a round of 68 in the qualifier.

Obed Sithole is another dark horse likely to cause an upset.