Johannesburg- It was exactly 10 years ago when Ryan Cairns won his only Altron Big Easy Tour title and having now ascended to the realm of tour veterans, the Zimbabwean still holds this circuit in high regard.
When the Altron Big Easy Tour was launched in 2011, Cairns was among the many professionals who were yet to grace the winner’s circle on the Sunshine Tour. The newly-established developmental tour proved to be the perfect platform for many players to sharpen their skills while readying themselves for the challenge that the Sunshine Tour would bring.
“I have a special place in my heart for the Big Easy,” Cairns says, “because 10 years ago when the Big Easy had just started, I won on the Big Easy and then six weeks later, I won on the Sunshine Tour, so this is a Tour I will always support when I can. It’s also great to see all the young guys coming through the Big Easy.”
Having gotten his breakthrough victory on the Altron Big Easy Tour, Cairns added his voice to the many who have hailed Altron for taking over the sponsorship of the Tour, saying it heralded a new era for golf development and access to the main circuit of the Sunshine Tour.
“It’s extremely important for the guys who are out here playing for a living,” Cairns said of Altron’s sponsorship of this Tour. “It’s amazing that companies like Altron can come on board and support the tour; it’s such a great platform for the Sunshine Tour and you can see what the guys do once they elevate to the Sunshine Tour, the DP World Tour or the PGA Tour.
“It’s such a great bunch of players coming through the ranks here in South Africa. I think Altron is well-positioned to add to the value of the Tour and, to be honest, I think this Tour is a really great platform for any company to launch their brand through; get a lot of visibility and TV and all these other stuff that comes with these sort of opportunities.”
Cairns turned professional back in 2005 and with over R2 million in prize money won in a career that spans 15 years, the Royal Harare Golf Club member is qualified enough to give counsel to the younger players who are beginning the same journey he did on this circuit all those years ago.
“Golf is such a tough sport, it’s really hard,” Cairns says, “so the best advice you can give any player is to say ‘don’t take yourself too seriously but at the same time, you’re playing for your career. It’s your dream to play on the Sunshine Tour or the DP World Tour or the PGA, so, use this platform to get to where you want to be.
“Also, write for a lot of invites on the Sunshine Tour. This is what I always say to the youngsters; write 30 letters and maybe two of them come back to say you’re in, you never know. There’s a lot of golf being played in South Africa, so write those letters and who knows?”
Cairns has gone on to play 234 tournaments on the Sunshine Tour, winning once and securing 18 top-10 finishes in what has been a great career for the Zimbabwean.
The Big Easy Tour was founded in 2011 with support from Ernie Els and counts current international star Christiaan Bezuidenhout among its former Order of Merit winners.