McClatchie top player for Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour in 2021

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In a year in which two players won six times on the BIG Easy IGT Challenge Tour circuits, it is difficult to pick a player of the year. In the end, however, through a stroke of good fortune, Kyle McClatchie gets the nod by virtue of his victory in the season-ending Big Easy Tour Championship.

That Ian Snyman was not in the field at the final event of the year was no fault of his own, as the prolific winner was finally able to take up his playing privileges so hard-earned at the 2020 Asian Tour Q-School and het an international career underway.

In truth, neither player would begrudge the other any of their successes – they are simply good guys who are blossoming into the kinds of players South African golf fans are becoming accustomed to expect: talented, hungry for victory, and, most of all, with a deep desire to showcase their locally-bred skills on ever more elite circuits.

McClatchie was South Africa’s number one ranked amateur in 2017, and he turned professional in 2018. His pro career looked bright with a 10th place finish in the 2018 Cape Town Open and second in the Steyn City Team Championship with Christian Bezuidenhout behind Jean Hugo and Hennie du Plessis. A poor 2018-19 season on the Sunshine Tour saw him with a best individual finish of 24th in the Zanaco Masters in Lusaka, Zambia. It was the same in the 2019-20 season when he had a share of 15th in the KCB Karen Masters in Nairobi, Kenya, and so it was that he set himself a goal of getting back on to the Sunshine Tour by playing his way there through the Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour.

After the COVID-19 enforced break in competitive sport in South Africa – as well as the rest of the world – he got his first win in October 2020 at State Mines. He won again in February at Modderfontein, and in May at ERPM.

But it was his late-season form which was so eye-catching, as he won in September, twice in October and then again in the Tour Championships in December to seal his return to the playing ranks of the Sunshine Tour.

Snyman was hardly less impressive: A victory in November 2020 at ERPM got the ball rolling. Then he won in March, April, August, twice in September, including a two-day pro-am, before finishing things off ahead of his departure to Asia with a win in November at State Mines in the first of three play-off events.

Other multiple winners on the circuit during 2021 included the amateur Christiaan Burke with four wins, and Herman Loubser, Keelan van Wyk and Michael Kok who won twice each.

In the end, McClatchie and Snyman led the way onto the Sunshine Tour through the Road to the Sunshine Tour series, together with Erhard Lambrechts, Ryan van Velzen, Vaughn van Deventer and Therion Nel.

The ‘transformation’ qualifiers for cards from that series were Van Wyk, Franklin Machest, Gerard du Plooy, Dwayne Basson, Makhetha Mazibuko and Yubin Jung.

Kok, Casey Jarvis, who will only decide whether to turn pro in March, and Leon Vorster won their cards on the Chase to the Sunshine Tour series. The ‘transformation’ cards in that series went to the impressive amateur Yurav Premlall, who will only make decision in March, Lwazi Gqira and Thabang Simon.

McClatchie will draw extra attention, however, as he’s been on the Sunshine Tour already, and his performance on the Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour in 2021 could be the indicator of a fresh start that will be filled with more promise than his first attempt.