Aaron Cockerill records career-best T2 finish on the DP World Tour
NAIROBI, KENYA - MARCH 06: Aaron Cockerill of Canada tees off on the 12th hole during day four of the Magical Kenya Open at Muthaiga Golf Club on March 06, 2022 in Nairobi, Kenya. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Adam Stanley/ Golf Canada
Appropriately enough, it was a magical week in Kenya for Aaron Cockerill.
At last week’s DP World Tour event – the Magical Kenya Open – the Winnipeg native finished tied for second. It was his best career result across the pond, and it came with both the biggest paycheque he’s ever cashed (just over CAD$180,000) plus a little more job security for the balance of the year.
The 29-year-old jumped 190 places in the in the Official World Golf Ranking to 351 after his result Sunday. It’s the best spot he’s ever hit in his career.
Cockerill has spent the last month playing golf in Africa. He played three Challenge Tour events before teeing it up on the DP World Tour in Kenya, and the next two weeks’ events are in South Africa. Cockerill made two of the three cuts on the Challenge Tour (like the Korn Ferry Tour in North America) but didn’t have any good finishes – “that’s just how golf can be sometimes” – but arrived in Nairobi and found an elevated comfort level on the golf course.
“Nothing was really that different. Just put myself in a different spot through a couple of days, had a good weekend, and hung around and it turned out to be a great week,” said Cockerill.
Cockerill, whose wife Chelsea travels with him often and can usually be found caddying for him, said he’s been able to adjust well to the rigors of the DP World Tour over the last few seasons. When he first headed over the Atlantic to try his hand on the then-European Tour he was star-struck. He’s young enough, he said, to have watched most of the guys he was competing against on TV growing up.
COVID-19, although incredibly difficult for travel and logistics, basically gave Cockerill a ‘bonus’ year in Europe. That allowed him to spend more time with the guys he was competing with week in and week out.
Cockerill’s tie for second in Kenya (he finished four shots back of winner Ashun Wu of China) moved him to 28th on the DP World Tour’s season-long points list. At the start of 2022 Cockerill didn’t have good status, so his plan was to tee it up at five Challenge Tour events and five DP World Tour events, see which Tour he was playing better on, and go from there.
Having such a great result at the early part of the season has now, essentially, given him DP World Tour status for the balance of 2022.
Cockerill is hopeful for an exemption this year into the RBC Canadian Open (he’s currently the 9th-ranked Canadian male in golf, with seven of those ahead of him PGA Tour regulars) but has a laser-like focus on getting to the DP World Tour’s ‘Category 10’ status ranking – equivalent to finishing inside the top 125 on the FedExCup standings on the PGA Tour, which would allow him to pick and choose his schedule overseas.
Despite the huge paydays available on the PGA Tour, Cockerill is quite comfortable playing his worldly schedule. If he could lock in full-time DP World Tour status it’s likely he’ll stick it out there instead of making a PGA Tour run.
“It’s so fun,” he said. “The travel and the places you get to go… it’s more difficult and there is huge money on the PGA Tour, but there is something about it over here where it’s really a blast.”
Now Cockerill is hopeful to parlay some early-season success into some more, well, magic.
“I think the biggest thing I took away is, regardless of the finish, I just felt very confident and comfortable in the situation (on Sunday). To know that I can be there on Sunday and feel good about it and put together a good round when it mattered was the biggest takeaway for me,” said Cockerill. “It being my best finish was just a bonus but the whole process was fun and very rewarding.”
Golf Canada Foundation Announces Bursaries for 2021-2022 Q-School
CP Womens Open at Magna Golf Club on August 23 2019 in Aurora, Ontario.
(Photo: Gary Yee)
The Golf Canada Foundation has opened applications for bursaries to provide Canadian professional golfers with financial assistance for upcoming Q-school tournaments in support their journeys to the LPGA and PGA TOUR.
These bursaries are being made available this year in recognition of the increased travel expenses that many players have incurred due to the impact of COVID-19. For example, host family housing has not been available at many events, thus creating increased expenses for players.
Canadian professional golfers who anticipate expenses attempting to qualify for the 2021-2022 season on any tour that is affiliated with the PGA TOUR, European Tour, or LPGA tour are welcomed to apply through this link.
The application will be open until Monday, September 20 at 5pm ET. Bursaries will be awarded by mid-October in amounts ranging from $2,000 to $7,000, depending on a player’s competitive results and projected expenses.
The PGA TOUR and European Tour today unveiled new details around their Strategic Alliance, with the PGA TOUR also releasing its 2021-22 PGA TOUR Season schedule.
The landmark agreement, announced in November 2020, further enhances and connects the ecosystem of men’s professional golf through a number of areas, including global scheduling, prize funds and playing opportunities for the respective memberships.
In terms of scheduling, the most significant piece of collaboration is the fact that three tournaments will be co-sanctioned in 2022 and therefore count on both the PGA TOUR’s FedExCup and the European Tour’s Race to Dubai next season: the Barbasol Championship; the Barracuda Championship; and the Genesis Scottish Open.
The latter event also has a new title sponsor in Genesis, the luxury automotive brand from South Korea, who will now title sponsor two tournaments on the PGA TOUR, with the Genesis Scottish Open joining The Genesis Invitational, which Genesis has titled since 2017; The Genesis Invitational will once again be played at The Riviera Country Club next year (February 14-20).
The Genesis Scottish Open (July 4-10), which is part of the European Tour’s Rolex Series, retains its place in golf’s global calendar the week ahead of The Open Championship (July 11-17), a date confirmed through to 2025. The player field will be a split between members of both Tours.
The tournament will also benefit from the continued commitment of the Scottish Government, managed by Visit Scotland – the agreement also running through 2025.
“We are delighted to welcome Genesis as a title sponsor of a European Tour event for the first time,” said European Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley. “Genesis has a strong history of sponsorship on the PGA TOUR through The Genesis Invitational, and their commitment to the Scottish Open will further enhance one of our premier events of the season.”
Although it will be on the PGA TOUR’s official schedule for the first time, the Genesis Scottish Open has a rich history on the European Tour, appearing in the Tour’s first two official seasons (1972 and 1973) and as part of the Tour’s International Schedule since 1986. It has also been part of the Rolex Series – the European Tour’s premium series of events – since the Series’ inception in 2017.
“Adding an existing, strong title sponsor in Genesis to our Strategic Alliance in the form of the Genesis Scottish Open – to be sanctioned by both Tours – is a significant step for the global game,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan. “Coupled with their support of The Genesis Invitational at Riviera, we’re incredibly proud to forge a deeper relationship with this premier brand across the global game.”
Genesis will take over the title sponsorship of the event from abrdn, who are exploring ways for the decade-long partnership with the European Tour to continue moving forward. The venue for the 2022 Genesis Scottish Open will be confirmed at a later date.
“We are extremely excited to become title sponsor of the Scottish Open at this historic moment, as the PGA TOUR and European Tour announce details on their Strategic Alliance,” said Jay Chang, Global head of Genesis. “Genesis and golf share a culture centered on respect, mutual admiration and innovation. We will continue to strengthen our partnership with both Tours to deliver this spirit to golfers, communities and individuals around the world through successful tournaments.”
Paul Bush, Director of Events at VisitScotland, said, “We are thrilled the European Tour and PGA TOUR have identified the Genesis Scottish Open to further develop their Strategic Alliance, and there is no more fitting stage than Scotland, the Home of Golf, on which to embark on such a historic journey.”
In addition to the Genesis Scottish Open being co-sanctioned, there will also be access for 50 European Tour members to each of two PGA TOUR events in 2022 for the first time – the Barbasol Championship, which will be played concurrently with the Genesis Scottish Open, and the Barracuda Championship, which will be played alongside the following week’s 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews. Both events will be added to the Race to Dubai for European Tour members.
It was also confirmed today that as part of the Strategic Alliance and collaboration between the two Tours, the Irish Open will see a significant increase in prize money for its annual European Tour event – to $6 million, starting in 2022 – nearly double the amount on offer at Mount Juliet last month. In addition, the PGA TOUR will continue to work with the European Tour on commercial opportunities across the Tour.
“When we announced the Strategic Alliance at the end of last year, we said it was a landmark moment for global golf’s ecosystem that would benefit all members of both Tours,” said Pelley. “Today’s announcement underlines that promise, with further enhancements to the Genesis Scottish Open, a strengthening of the Irish Open for our members, and direct access for European Tour members to two PGA TOUR events.
“There has been considerable collaboration behind the scenes between our two Tours since November’s Alliance was unveiled, and we are delighted to share these initial developments, which demonstrate our commitment to working together for the betterment of our sport globally. We will have more to announce in the coming months – this is most definitely just the beginning.”
“With today’s news, I am pleased to say that the PGA TOUR and the European Tour are both stronger than at any time in our history, as we are positioned to grow – together – over the next 10 years faster than we have at any point in our existence,” said Monahan. “We are committed to continuing to evolve and adapt, and with our ever-strengthening partnership with the European Tour, to take the global game to the heights we all know it is capable of.”
PGA TOUR Schedule Highlights
The 2021-22 PGA TOUR Schedule includes several significant enhancements and features a total of 48 official events – 45 during the FedExCup Regular Season along with three 2022 FedExCup Playoffs events.
The 2022 portion of the schedule will kick off the PGA TOUR’s new, nine-year domestic media rights agreements with ViacomCBS, Comcast/NBC and ESPN. As part of the agreement, all three 2022 FedExCup Playoffs events will be broadcast domestically on NBC network television, beginning a rotation that continues with CBS hosting all three events in 2023.
Headline news includes the change in location and venue for the kickoff of the FedExCup Playoffs to TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee, starting in 2022, replacing the Regular Season event that has been held in Memphis since 1958. FedEx will serve as the title sponsor of the event, to be known as the FedEx St. Jude Championship (August 8-14), replacing existing title sponsor Northern Trust after this year’s playing of THE NORTHERN TRUST at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey.
“FedEx is excited that the first event of the 2022 FedExCup Playoffs will be hosted in our hometown of Memphis, Tennessee,” said Raj Subramaniam, President and Chief Operating Officer of FedEx Corporation. “We are proud of our history and the community impact we’ve had since becoming title sponsor of our hometown TOUR stop in 1986. We look forward to the impact it will bring to our local community and will continue to use it as a platform to showcase the groundbreaking work being done by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to golf fans around the world.”
“Since the inception of the FedExCup in 2007, we have made a number of changes to enhance the quality of the FedExCup Playoffs for our players, fans and partners,” said Monahan. “Thanks to the continued support from FedEx as the TOUR’s umbrella partner, we’re proud to bring the start of the FedExCup to Memphis and a course loved by our players. Not only will it be a great test worthy of Playoff golf, but we also anticipate tremendous enthusiasm from a community that has steadfastly supported the PGA TOUR for more than 60 years. And, of course, the important work of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital will continue to be front and center.
“In totality, the 2021-22 PGA TOUR Schedule, combined with the momentum we have with our now-entrenched partnership with the European Tour, puts the PGA TOUR in a position of strength within professional golf like never before. We’re confident this schedule will give the world’s best players the opportunity to do what they do best – inspire and entertain our fans around the globe while helping our tournaments make a significant impact in their respective communities.”
The 2022 FedExCup Playoffs will continue to include the BMW Championship (August 15-21), which rotates next year to Wilmington Country Club in Wilmington, Delaware, and the FedExCup Playoffs finale, the TOUR Championship (August 22-28), once again slated for East Lake Golf Club.
The PGA TOUR’s flagship event, THE PLAYERS Championship (March 7-13), will anchor a true Florida Swing in 2022, which features four consecutive events through The Sunshine State in the spring, including the Valspar Championship, which was played in April/May this past year. THE PLAYERS will be in year three of its March date and as a kickoff to the Season of Championships, with Justin Thomas returning as defending champion.
The Memorial Tournament presented by Workday (May 30-June 5) enters the first year of a 10-year agreement in 2022 with new presenting sponsor, Workday. Founded in 1976 by golf legend Jack Nicklaus and held annually at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, the tournament partners for the first time with three-time NBA champion and two-time MVP Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, and Ayesha Curry, an entrepreneur, host and New York Times bestselling author.
After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the RBC Canadian Open (June 6-12) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, returns to the schedule in 2022 at St. George’s Golf and Country Club. Rory McIlroy won the last RBC Canadian Open, played in 2019.
Other notable items and changes to the 2021-22 PGA TOUR Schedule include (in chronological order):
As previously announced, the Fortinet Championship (September 13-19), with new title sponsor Fortinet, kicks off the 2021-22 FedExCup Regular Season at Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa, California.
The Ryder Cup will be played the week following the Fortinet Championship, with nine official events played during the balance of 2021 for a total of 10 events to be played in the fall.
The reconfigured Asia Swing will begin with THE CJ CUP @ SUMMIT (October 11-17), which moves to the United States for the second year in a row and will be staged at The Summit Club in Las Vegas, Nevada, delivering back-to-back weeks of PGA TOUR golf in Las Vegas, as the Shriners Children’s Open will be contested October 4-10.
Following THE CJ CUP @ SUMMIT will be the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP and World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions, with additional details to be available in the near future.
As previously announced, World Wide Technology embarks on its first year of title sponsorship of the TOUR’s original event in Mexico, the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba (November 1-7).
The Sentry Tournament of Champions – a PGA TOUR winners-only event – leads off the 2022 calendar year (January 3-9).
The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am (January 31-February 6) and the Waste Management Phoenix Open (February 7-13) trade spots in the schedule, as the TOUR’s event at TPC Scottsdale remains in its traditional date of Super Bowl week.
The Puerto Rico Open (February 28-March 6) will be played as an additional event alongside the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard.
The Corales Puntacana Championship (March 21-27), in its first year under an extended term, will be played as an additional event alongside the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play.
The Mexico Championship (April 25-May 1) returns to the calendar as a PGA TOUR co-sponsored event, no longer under the World Golf Championships umbrella. With the field of 132 players, there is an anticipation of additional Mexican golfers in the field to help in inspire and grow the game in one of golf’s key emerging markets.
With the biennial Presidents Cup being held at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte in 2022, the Wells Fargo Championship (May 2-8) will be contested for one year at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm in Potomac, Maryland.
The John Deere Classic (June 27-July 3), traditionally played the week prior to The Open Championship, moves one week earlier.
Following The Open Championship, the 3M Open (July 18-24), Rocket Mortgage Classic (July 25-31) and Wyndham Championship (August 1-7) close out the FedExCup Regular Season.
The European Tour will announce the initial portion of its 2022 schedule later this month, with the full season announcement to follow in due course.
The R&A starts the countdown to The 150th Open with introduction of ticket ballot
SANDWICH, ENGLAND - MAY 18: The Claret Jug photographed from the "Maidens' hill above the par 3, sixth green at the host venue for the The Open to be held at Royal St George’s Golf Club on May 18, 2021 in Sandwich, England. (Photo by David Cannon/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)
1 June 2021, St Andrews, Scotland – The R&A has announced the countdown to The 150th Open which kicks off today with the launch of a special commemorative brand and the introduction of a ticket ballot to ensure the most equitable ticket sales process possible.
First played in 1860, The Open has been graced by golf’s greatest champions including Tom Morris, the grandfather of golf, Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Seve Ballesteros, Sir Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods, and will mark its 150th playing with a true celebration of the sport at the Home of Golf from 10-17 July 2022.
With the extremely high levels of demand to attend this historic championship, the introduction of a ballot for tickets is deemed the fairest and most equitable way of ensuring golf fans from around the world have the chance to secure their place at the world-renowned Old Course next July. Hospitality for the event has been on sale since last year, with 85% of packages already sold.
The ticket ballot will run from Thursday, 1 July 2021 to Monday, 4 October 2021 giving as many fans as possible the opportunity to register for tickets. A balance of allocations will ensure every generation of fan, from all over the world, as well as throughout the UK and the local area, will be able to attend the celebrations in St Andrews next July.
Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “This is a momentous occasion for golf as well as The Open and one which sports fans everywhere are looking forward to enormously. The 150th Open will give fans the opportunity to be part of a unique and unparalleled celebration at the birthplace of the game in St Andrews.
The new 150th commemorative brand will be displayed across a campaign of content and activations that will run throughout the next 14 months until the conclusion of next year’s Championship at St Andrews. The focus of the campaign will be the remarkable journey of The Open and its enduring impact on players, fans and the sport of golf itself since it was first staged back in 1860.
The 150th logo is made up of individual threads that each represent the millions of journeys connected to the Championship. From the greats of the game, to the hundreds of millions of golfers who have played the game since 1860, to the vast array of championships that take place in the global golfing calendar, the journey of our sport is intimately linked to the pioneers who started The Open to identify the Champion Golfer of the Year more than a century-and-a-half ago. The threads will be prominently used in imagery throughout the build-up to The 150th Open, emphasising the campaign’s central message that ‘everything has led to this’ as we count down to what promises to be a truly unforgettable occasion.
Ticket prices for The 150th Open will be £95 for an adult on Championship days and will range from £20 to £50 on practice days. The R&A is fully committed to encouraging more children and young people to attend The Open and free tickets will be available to children through the successful and long-running “Kids go Free” programme, while half-price youth tickets are available for 16-24 year-olds. In order to give as many people as possible the chance to attend the Championship, weekly tickets are being discontinued.
The ticket ballot will be available exclusively to members of The One Club, the free-to-join membership programme. Fans can sign up to The One Club any time at www.TheOpen.com and will be among the first to be notified when the ballot is open.
Origins Hospitality, a range of fully inclusive experiences, is available to purchase now and is the only way fans can guarantee their place at the Championship. Visit www.TheOpen.com/hospitality2022 for further information.
Cockerill closes out South African Open in a tie for 18th
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Canadian Press with files from Golf Canada
SUN CITY, South Africa — Christiaan Bezuidenhout won a second straight tournament on the European Tour when he finished with a 69 for 18 under par overall and a convincing five-shot victory at the South African Open on Sunday.
The 26-year-old South African became the first player since Justin Rose in 2017 to win European Tour events on consecutive weeks. Bezuidenhout won the Alfred Dunhill Championship, also in South Africa, last weekend and now has three career tour titles.
Bezuidenhout took a five-shot lead into the final round at Gary Player Country Club at the Sun City resort and maintained that advantage over Jamie Donaldson of Wales, who also closed with a 69. Dylan Frittelli of South Africa (71) was third on 11 under.
Canadian Aaron Cockerill of Stony Mountain, Man., was in the hunt after firing a 68 on Friday, but shot 72 on Saturday and followed that up with Sunday’s 74 to tie for 18th at 3 under.
After starting with a run of pars, Bezuidenhout made bogey at No. 8. But he recovered with three straight birdies after the turn and had four birdies in all on the back nine to consolidate his lead.
“It’s any South African golfer’s dream to win his national open,” Bezuidenhout said. “It’s unreal.”
His story is something of an inspiration after he nearly died as a child because of an accidental poisoning. That incident led him to be prescribed medication to help with anxiety and a stutter but the medication resulted in a doping ban when he was an amateur. The two-year ban in 2014 was later reduced to nine months.
Sunday’s victory took Bezuidenhout up to fifth in the Race to Dubai money list rankings ahead of the season-ending World Tour Championship in Dubai starting on Thursday. Patrick Reed of the United States leads the season standings ahead of Tommy Fleetwood, Collin Morikawa, Lee Westwood and Bezuidenhout.
PGA Tour gets share of European Tour TV as part of alliance
Jay Monahan (Getty Images)
Doug Ferguson/ Associated Press
The PGA Tour has acquired a minority stake in the European Tour’s media production company as part of an alliance announced Friday, a big first step toward developing a more unified golf schedule around the world.
The deal effectively makes the two leading tours more partners than rivals. The tours said in a statement the alliance would allow them to collaborate on commercial opportunities and global media rights in certain territories.
“The PGA Tour moves from a competitor to a partner,” Keith Pelley, chief executive for the European Tour, said on a conference call.
While seen as a pivotal first step, any notion of a world tour _ which golf executives have contemplated for more than a decade _ remains some years away. The immediate goal is to figure out a schedule that keeps the tours from competing against each other and strengthening events on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond.
Pelley offered few details on scheduling, access to tours or even negotiating media rights.
As part of the agreement, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan will join the European Tour board as a non-executive member who would have a vote. “They have a monetary investment in our business,” he said of the PGA Tour.
Pelley said the board’s approval of the partnership was unanimous.
The announcement is likely to put an end to the Premier Golf League, which a year ago was courting the world’s best players for a team-based circuit and funded in part by Saudi money. Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka rejected the idea right before the pandemic.
Pelley said The Raine Group, a private equity firm behind the Premier Golf League, presented a “compelling offer to take the European Tour to another level but in a different direction.”
“We felt partnering with the PGA Tour was the best option,” he said.
Pelley said the partnership grew out of golf organizations having to work together at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to rearrange the major championship season for men and women.
“We shared the challenges of working through a year neither of us could have ever imagined and we found definite synergies in many areas of our respective tours,” Pelley said.
The announcement comes toward the end of a devastating year financially for both tours. The PGA Tour has lost more money than the European one because of its size, though it had more in reserve to handle the crisis.
The PGA Tour shut down for three months, and then resumed June 8 and played a tournament every week except for this one, with no reduction in prize money. Two of its Asia tournaments, in South Korean and Japan, moved to the western U.S. with a purse of $9.75 million (CJ Cup at Shadow Creek) and $8 million (Zozo Championship at Sherwood).
The European Tour resumed in July with a series of new tournaments geared toward giving its members events to play while maintaining a strict bubble to protect against the spread of the coronavirus. Players would stay in regions such as the Iberian peninsula and the U.K., though the total purse was rarely more than 1 million euros.
The exceptions were the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, the flagship event at its headquarters, the Scottish Open and the DP World Tour Championship next month in Dubai.
The gap between the tours has grown so much in the last decade there have been rumblings of a merger of the tours, or even a takeover, given the PGA Tour’s wealth. Monahan referred only to a partnership, and said “we look forward to working together for the benefit of the men’s professional game and for golf fans around the world.”
Pelley strongly disputed the notion of a merger, suggesting that would happen only if the tour had financial difficulties or there were significant benefits for the players. He said the European Tour had a strong balance sheet, which allowed it to create 15 new events during the pandemic and spend $3 million on a health and safety plan.
“This is not a merger,” he said.
A week before the pandemic, the PGA Tour announced a new media rights deal that starts in 2022 and is said to be worth $7 billion over nine years, which includes digital. The tour also has a 12-year deal with Discovery, which owns Golf TV.
London-based Discovery also is a rights holder for the European Tour, which has various contracts with TV companies, given its schedule that plays in more countries than any tour.
The PGA Tour has become so lucrative that Europe’s best players have taken up membership on both tours. Of the 20 Europeans among the top 75 in the world, only four are not PGA Tour members.
Hansen of Denmark overturned a three-shot deficit with nine holes remaining to win his first European Tour title Sunday.
Hansen closed with a composed, bogey-free 67 to win on 19 under par, two shots clear of 20-year-old Wilco Nienaber of South Africa. Nienaber carded a final-round 70 and saw his chance at a first tour title slip away with bogeys on his last two holes.
Nienaber took a one-stroke lead into the final round at Randpark Golf Club and extended his advantage to three with three birdies from No. 4.
Hansen birdied Nos. 10, 12 and 14 to get into a tie for the lead before Nienaber bogeyed No. 17 after almost finding the water to the left of the green.
Nienaber then dropped another shot on the last as Hansen saved par from a greenside bunker to seal his victory.
“It was a fun battle out there with Wilco,” Hansen said. “I kept the head calm out there and we stuck to the plan in terms of where we wanted to hit our drives and approaches. I kept pushing. It started slowly but suddenly the birdies came on the back nine.”
Shaun Norris of South Africa was third on 16 under after finishing with a 66.
The Joburg Open returned to the European Tour schedule this year for the first time since 2017. It’s the first of three straight tournaments in South Africa before the season-ending World Tour Championship in Dubai from Dec. 10-13.
Cockerill tied for 3rd after first round of Joburg Open
Luke Walker/Getty Images
Canadian Press with files from Golf Canada
JOHANNESBURG — South Africans Wilco Nienaber and Shaun Norris both shot an 8-under 63 Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Joburg Open, which made its return to the European Tour schedule for the first time since 2017.
Aaron Cockerill of Stony Mountain, Man., who played his first round bogey-free and made two birdies on his last three. Cockerill ended the day one back of the lead at 7-under 64.
American Johannes Veerman joined Cockerill in a tie for 3rd — both players completed late-afternoon runs at Randpark Golf Club in Johannesburg.
Rhys Enoch, Adilson da Silva, Richard McEvoy, Benjamin Follett-Smith and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano all carded 65s and were another shot back.
On a morning of low scores, Nienaber and Norris both made eagles at the par-5 No. 12. Nienaber also had nine birdies but was held back by three bogeys. Norris made six birdies to go with his eagle and didn’t drop a shot all round.
The 20-year-old Nienaber turned pro last year and his best finish in a tour event is fourth. His power was on show at Randpark as he unleashed a 439-yard drive off the tee on the par-5 No. 4. He nearly picked up a second eagle there as his putt hit the cup but didn’t drop.
Norris is also seeking a first European Tour title, although he’s won twice on the Asian Tour. He put together a strong finish by making five birdies on his last seven holes.
The Joburg Open is the first of three straight European Tour tournaments in South Africa before the season-ending World Tour Championship in Dubai on Dec. 10-13.
PAPHOS, Cyprus — Callum Shinkwin beat Kalle Samooja in a playoff to win his first European Tour title after a dramatic final day at the Cyprus Open on Sunday.
Shinkwin birdied the first extra hole to secure victory after the pair had finished tied on 20 under par.
“Winning on the European Tour is something I’ve always wanted to do and now I have,” said the 27-year-old Englishman, who lost his Tour card at the end of 2018. “It’s been a bit of a shock, but it feels great.”
Shinkwin, who lost a playoff for the Scottish Open in 2017, had earlier produced a spectacular finish to set the clubhouse target following a closing 63.
Shinkwin was two shots behind with two holes to play but birdied the 17th and then holed from 50 feet for an eagle on the 18th to complete a back nine of 29.
“I could see the scoreboard and Kalle was on 19 (under) and I was on 18,” Shinkwin said. “There was no chance really to hole that putt normally, it was one in a million you’re going to hole it from that distance and my aim was to try and two putt.”
Samooja needed to match Shinkwin’s eagle to win in regulation and saw his long-range attempt run five feet past the hole. He held his nerve to hole the birdie putt to finish with a 64 and force extra holes.
The 32-year-old Finn then left himself with an almost identical birdie putt to extend the playoff, but pushed it agonizingly wide of the hole.
Overnight leader Jamie Donaldson, who needed on-course treatment for a back problem, carded a closing 67 to finish in a tie for third on 18 under with Robert MacIntyre (65) and Garrick Higgo (65).
Canadian Aaron Cockerill finished the tournament in a tie for 14th. The player from Teulon, Man., scored a 66 in the final round and climbed 13 spots from his Saturday position.
Different kind of driving for golfer Aaron Cockerill on Euro Tour this season
Aaron Cockerill (Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images)
John Chidley-Hill/ Canadian Press
Aaron Cockerill is really getting to know his caddie Stuart Beck this season on the European Tour. It’s the deep kind of familiarity that can only come from a long road trip.
Cockerill, from Stony Mountain, Man., is the lone Canadian on the European Tour and will be start play in the U.K. Championship just outside of Birmingham, England, on Thursday. It’s the sixth consecutive event he’s played in Britain, essentially giving him a six-week trip around England and Wales, driving from tournament to tournament with Beck.
“Lots of time together. He’s probably getting sick of me,” said Cockerill with a laugh. “They’ve created a pod system within (the Euro Tour’s) bubble so you can only eat dinner with your caddie and one other player and their caddie, so you can only hang out with a couple of people all week.”
Cockerill noted that even within his small dining pod – he and Beck have been eating with American Johannes Veerman recently – the tables are “hilariously” far apart.
The life on the road is a product of the Euro Tour’s approach to COVID-19 safety protocols. Instead of playing in a different country each week, the tour has created multi-week swings through one country at a time. There are several benefits to the new system, including the tour booking all the accommodations for the golfers to ensure they remain within their bubble. It also means the golfers have fewer travel documents to sort out.
“Last year you’d finish a tournament and then fly what seemed like halfway around the world and a few time zones over,” said Cockerill. “Honestly, it’s been great because it’s just been so much easier. … It’s really simple. You just show up and play golf.”
Cockerill tied for 53rd at the British Masters on July 25, missed the cut at the English Open on Aug. 2, tied for 26th at the English Championship on Aug. 9, and tied for 14th at the Celtic Classic on Aug. 16.
A tie for 53rd at the Wales Open on Sunday moved him up four spots in the Race to Dubai rankings, placing him in 152nd heading into play on Thursday. The top 110 cards keep their cards next season.
“It’s been fun but it’s also been five weeks in a row and I’m starting to get tired,” said Cockerill, who plans to skip the European Tour’s swing through the Iberian peninsula. “I’m looking forward to getting home.”
After a few weeks back home – Cockerill and his fiancee just purchased a new home in Winnipeg – he plans on returning to Great Britain for the Euro Tour’s second circuit, this time with stops in Northern Ireland, Scotland and England.