There was something entirely apt around the fact that Sunshine Tour professional Keenan Davidse and his team of Sir Kenny Dalglish and two businessmen should lead day one of the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola at the Lost City Golf Course on Saturday.
Davidse, Dalglish, Andile Thloaele and Gideon du Plessis led the field with 89 points, one ahead of the teams led by Ian Woosnam and the Black Knight himself, Gary Player.
But it seemed almost right that the young golfer whom Gary Player supports as part of a talent identification program in South African professional golf should top the leaderboard with his team. Davidse is making his debut in this tournament, and does so as a member of the Gary Player Academy Class, which is the Sunshine Tour’s program to assist historically disadvantaged professionals and build on the work of the South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB).
And Dalglish in particular was impressed with the talent he saw in his playing partner. “Keenan is such a lovely guy and he played really well. South Africa can be very proud of the young golfers the country is producing at the moment.”
But as much as being at the top of the leaderboard brought a smile to his face, Dalglish conveyed the real purpose they are playing for.
“You know, everybody enjoys being with Gary Player and whatever he’s involved with. If you can’t come out and support a great man such as him and giving back in this way, then there is something wrong with you.”
It was a message echoed by Brian Lara. “It’s not about winning this tournament. It’s about the camaraderie. It unbelievable to see the support the great man has,” he said following the news that the official charity auction raised more than R2 550 000.00 for the two official charities, Wildlands and Wings and Wishes.
Sunshine Tour professional Jean Hugo, also playing for the first time, quickly embraced the real meaning behind this tournament.
After holding the early clubhouse lead with his team on 84 points, he declared, “We’ll keep doing our best on Sunday. But it’s not really about that, is it? It’s about the philanthropy and having fun, which we did out there”.
Lara also certainly enjoyed himself, once he’d managed to get that nerve-wracking first tee shot in front of an 18-time Major champion out of the way.
“It’s crazy isn’t it? You can make me face Allan Donald and 50 000 passionate South African cricket fans and I’ll be fine. But give me a little white ball, 20 people watching, and one of them Gary Player, and suddenly I’m a nervous wreck.”
Scores from Round One of the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola
Keenan Davidse, Sir Kenny Dalglish, Andile Thloaele, Gideon Du Plessis 89 points
Ian Woosnam, Matthew Booth, Marc Viakovsky, Laurent Girouille 88 points
Gary Player, Owen Nkumane, Roger Gauntlett, Alex Maditse 88 points
Trevor Immelman, Jimmy Tau, Luc Gavagnin, Daniel Gavagnin 86 points
Jean Hugo, Mark Williams, Khaled Samawi, Adrian Moors 84 points
Richard Sterne, Brian McFadden, Grant Horsfield, Stuart Curtis 84 points
Henni Zuel, Graeme Smith, Neil Senior, Pam Senior 78 points
Annika Sorenstam, Aaron Mokoena, Marco Saviozzi, Franco Saviozzi 78 points
Joanna Klatten, Brian Lara, Stephanie Zinser, Steve Elford 75 points