Carl Fourie/Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images
- Sunshine Tour golfer JC Ritchie will have to wait another year to make his Open Championship debut
- Ritchie qualified for his first major tournament after topping the 2019/20 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit list.
- Ritchie believes that the lockdown will not have an impact on his game once the Sunshine Tour resumes.
This week at Royal St. George’s Golf Course in Kent, South African golfer JC Ritchie was expected to make his Major debut at the Open Championship.
Instead of appearing in the world’s oldest golf tournament, Ritchie is patiently waiting for competitive golf to resume in South Africa.
The 26-year-old earned his Open Championship ticket after finishing top of the 2019/20 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit standings.
Ritchie accomplished this by claiming two Sunshine Tour titles (Zanaco Masters and Limpopo Championship) together with four Top 5 finishes in 19 events.
The 149th Open Championship was scheduled to get underway on Thursday, 16 July but was the only major cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Ritchie admitted that he is not disappointed in the tournament being cancelled and says he is looking forward to finally making his Open debut.
“I’m not disappointed at all about this year’s Open. I only received the invite into the event a few weeks ago knowing it would only happen next year as this year’s Open was cancelled. So I’m looking forward to next year playing in my first Open Championship,” he told Sport24.
The PGA Tour and European Tour have already resumed their 2020 season with a no-spectator policy and strict coronavirus guidelines.
Sunshine Tour commissioner Selwyn Nathan told Sport24 earlier last month that the Tour is discussing a plan for a possible start “mid-August”.
Ritchie stated that he is keeping fit and is looking forward to replicating his form when the Sunshine Tour resumes.
“I’m doing all I can to get ready for whenever we have tournaments again. Hopefully, we can get a positive message about our Tour soon. I can’t wait to start playing competitively again.”
South African golfers have not played competitively since the Tour suspended all of its activities on 16 March.
Although golf clubs reopened for recreational activity, Ritchie stated that getting back to playing competitively isn’t something he’ll lose touch with.
“I’ve had a long and stressful two-year stretch. I felt like I needed a long break after our season ended to fully recover,” said Ritchie.
“Breaks and rest are a blessing in any sportsman’s life and career. It has been an extra-long one but we also have a lot of time to get ready for our next events. I don’t think a professional sportsman will ever lose touch with their sport.”
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