Durban - Sunshine Tour professional Keenan Davidse was at home having dinner when he received a phone call informing him that Gary Player had personally invited him to join some of the biggest stars in golf, sport, entertainment and business playing in the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola. The event will take place at The Lost City Golf Course from November 22-25.
“It was unreal. I was blown away. I couldn’t even finish my meal after that. I mean, this is Gary Player we’re talking about,” said Davidse.
The young professional has been given the opporutnity of a lifetime to tee it up in a field including the Black Knight himself, as well as World Golf Hall of Famer, entrepreneur, and iconic star of women’s golf Annika Sorenstam, former Masters champion and European Ryder Cup captain Ian Woosnam, 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman, former South African Open champion Richard Sterne, Irish pop star Brian McFadden, and sports stars such as Liverpool legend Sir Kenny Dalglish, Springbok rugby player Owen Nkumane, Proteas cricket captain Graeme Smith and West Indies cricket great Brian Lara, and former Bafana Bafana stars Aaron Mokoena, Jimmy Tau and Mark Williams.
“It’s an incredible honour to be invited to play alongside a field of legends such as this,” said Davidse, who received his invitation as part of Gary Player’s ongoing commitment towards the development of South African golf.
Davidse is a member of the Gary Player Class, which together with the Grand Slam champion’s support is the Sunshine Tour’s drive to assist historically disadvantaged professionals by giving them every chance at success with access to the best practice facilities, coaching and advice. It builds on the work done by the South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB) and The World of Golf to develop talent, and then helps these players to make a success of their professional careers.
The impact the Gary Player Class has had on Davidse’s own career has been immense.
During the Sunshine Tour’s 2016/17 season, Davidse had a career-best of tied seventh in the Joburg Open – a European Tour co-sanctioned event. He has moved ever closer to a maiden Sunshine Tour victory with a finish of second in the 2017 Vodacom Origins of Golf at the Arabella Country Estate and third in the 2018 Cape Town Open.
“Being a member of the Gary Player Class has helped my career tremendously. But never once did I think it would open a door for me to one day play in the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola,” said Davidse.
“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.”
And Davidse is planning to make full use of the opportunity that has been given to him by South Africa’s Sportsman of the Century.
“I cannot wait to spend some time with Mr Player. The one thing I really want to ask him is how he developed such a strong mind and what I can do to work on my own mental strength on the golf course.”
The Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola is the final stop on the annual series of global Gary Player Invitational tournaments played in Abu Dhabi, London, New York and Shanghai, all with the purpose of raising funds to bring hope, help, and healing in those cities and countries.
To date the series has helped to raise more than $64 million for the underprivileged worldwide, with The Player Foundation targetting $100 million for charity by 2025.
In South Africa, the funds raised are donated to the foundation’s selected beneficiaries, Wildlands, in support of women empowerment and the upliftment of disadvantaged communities, and Wings & Wishes in aid of underprivileged children in need of medical care.