Sunshine Tour professional Jean Hugo was a 19-year-old amateur when he first played a round of golf with Gary Player. This weekend, Hugo will feel a similar sense of awe as one of four Sunshine Tour professionals who have been invited to play in the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola at Sun City.
Hugo, Richard Sterne and Keenan Davidse will join Masters champion Trevor Immelman as the Sunshine Tour members in the field of golfers, sports stars, celebrities and business leaders supporting the Black Knight’s charity tournament at the Lost City Golf Course.
“Mr Player was my idol growing up,” said Hugo. “I just loved the perseverance and hard work he represented. There aren’t enough words for what he has done for the Sunshine Tour. He’s always done so much good for golf worldwide and remains an inspiration to this day.”
As with so many of South Africa’s golfers, Sterne has also always shared a strong bond with Gary Player.
“If you ask me what Mr Player represents for us as South African golfers, I’ll say everything. He started everything for us as South African professional golfers. It’s just a privilege to spend time with him. I love picking his brain about the golf swing and listening to his stories. He’s great for golf everywhere and great for South Africa in general,” he said.
Davidse is making his debut in the tournament, having received an invitation as a member of the Gary Player Class, which is the Sunshine Tour’s program to assist historically disadvantaged professionals by giving them every chance at success with access to the best practice facilities, coaching and advice at The World of Golf. The program builds on the work done by the South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB) to develop talent, and then helps these players to make a success of their professional careers.
“Mr Player has been one of my great heroes in golf. He’s everything we strive to be as South African professionals. He inspires me, in my own way, to always remember to give back through golf. To now be playing in the same tournament as Mr Player is a dream come true,” said Davidse.
And Immelman, although in the field more as a Major winner and champion on the European Tour and PGA Tour, always speaks with tremendous pride at representing the Sunshine Tour and the inspiration Gary Player has been throughout his career.
“I’ve had a fantastic relationship with Mr Player for a long, long time, for which I’m very thankful. For what he has done for me personally, it’s always an honor for me to support the Gary Player Invitational. But there is also just such immense respect for what people like he has done for the Sunshine Tour and South African golf.”