Sunshine Tour's Order of Merit race heating up
Cape Town - The final stretch of the season is always an exhilarating affair with interesting developments on both the upper and lower ends of the Sunshine Tour's Order of Merit standings, making the end of any season an exciting prospect for players and fans.
According to the Sunshine Tour, the chase for the crown is wide open and while Louis Oosthuizen leads, winning the Order of Merit is almost out of his hands, given that he's only played two events on the Sunshine Tour this season - the South African Open and the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
He is R1.5-million clear of Zander Lombard but will need to play at least four of the remaining events and finish well there, as only a player who has played a minimum of six tournaments is eligible to win. That is unlikely.
Lombard, on the other hand, has played five tournaments and won one and if he, too, plays a couple more from the seven remaining tournaments, he has every opportunity to topple Oosthuizen.
There are three R2-million events still coming (Eye of Africa PGA Championship, Cape Town Open and Tour Championship) while both the new Limpopo Challenge and the Team Championship boast R1.5-million in prize money.
The biggest among the remaining tournaments is the Dimension Data Pro-Am which has a purse of R5-million.
Justin Harding, provided he plays in at least some of the remaining events, also has a chance of adding to his two titles this season and possibly claim his maiden Order of Merit title.
He is R1.9-million off Oosthuizen but the opportunity is there for him and whether he decides to go for it will be upon him.
Depending on whether Oosthuizen, Lombard and Harding play and how well they do in the remaining tournaments of the season, Bryce Easton (fourth) and Neil Schietekat (fifth) also have a chance to clinch the Order of Merit title, if they play and do well in the remaining events.
Easton has played eight events on the Sunshine Tour this season, which include his win in Zimbabwe, and is thus eligible to win while Schietekat's resurgent form delivered him two titles this season.
Whatever the predictions and calculations, there's still some way to go before the Order of Merit is wrapped up and the only thing everybody is certain about is that things are about to get really exciting on either end of the Order of Merit standings.