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Ritchie targeting third consecutive win and automatic promotion in Bloemfontein

Ritchie targeting third consecutive win and automatic promotion in Bloemfontein

JC Ritchie is eyeing automatic promotion to the DP World Tour by becoming the first player to win three consecutive European Challenge Tour events as he prepares to tee it up in this week’s Mangaung Open, which takes place at Bloemfontein Golf Club and Schoeman Park Golf Club.

Ritchie (4)

The ten-time Sunshine Tour winner sits in pole position on the Road to Mallorca Rankings after back-to-back victories at the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open and last week’s Jonsson Workwear Open and he will now look to secure the treble in Bloemfontein, which will subsequently earn the South African immediate DP World Tour playing rights.

The 28-year-old recorded the lowest 54-hole total in Challenge Tour history last week after reaching a staggering 25 under par following the third round at Durban Country Club, however this rich vein of form has come of little surprise to Ritchie, who is reaping the rewards of the hard work he has put in over the last two years.

“It was amazing to win back-to-back,” he said. “I’m still taking it in and I’m unsure of how it happened, but I am trying to enjoy it.

“The last two years have been tough. I have put in a lot of work and made changes to my swing. I wouldn’t say my success has surprised me because I know how hard I have worked for this and the effort I have put in to get where I am now.”

Ritchie was contemplating taking this week off to recuperate, however he could not pass up the opportunity to write his name into Challenge Tour history books and earn immediate promotion to the DP World Tour.

“I thought about taking this week off but I decided to keep playing while I am in a hot run of form and see if I can be blessed with another victory.

“I am going to take this week as calmly as I can to try and get my energy levels back because we still have a long stretch of events in South Africa.”

The South African will tee it up this week in the fourth of seven consecutive co-sanctioned tournaments between the Challenge Tour and Sunshine Tour and he was grateful for the playing opportunities created at the start of the 2022 season.

“These events are life-changing for the Sunshine Tour,” he said. “Previously it was difficult for South Africans to get on to the DP World Tour because opportunities were limited. You had to either win one of the co-sanctioned events or go through Qualifying School. To be able to play these events on the Challenge Tour and have another pathway to the DP World Tour is incredible for us.”

Ritchie would become the 13th Challenge Tour player to win three or more titles in the same season to elevate him to the DP World Tour, with Finland’s Kim Koivu the last player to successfully do so in 2018.

The Mangaung Open will get under way at 7am local time on Thursday March 3, with Ritchie teeing it up alongside countryman Wilco Nienaber, who grew up in Bloemfontein, and Road to Mallorca Number Three Christopher Mivis at 7:44am.

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