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South African PGA, blacks settle exemption dispute

The deadlock between the South African PGA and its aggrieved black professionals was finally ended on Tuesday, with the players accepting a compromise proposal over the number of exemption places for each tournament.

The black professionals, who had been demanding 10 places per tournament, agreed to a sliding scale of exemptions for events on the South African Tour.

The SAPGA had originally settled on a figure of five, but the black professionals claimed this was in direct contrast with the 10 which was drafted into the constitution in 1990, before the then all-white SAPGA merged with the black Tournament Professionals Association (T ) a year later.

The new exemption format will come into effect at the tour's next event, the Pietersburg Classic early next month.

The agreement states that in the event of there being 22 or more places available to pre-qualifiers for a tournament, the number of black exemptions will be 10.

If there are 19 to 21 spots available, the number will be nine. For 16 to 18 spots, there will be eight exemptions, for 13 to 15 there will be seven, for 10 to 12 there will be six, and for less than 10 spots, there will be the minimum of five black exemptions.

"This was the only workable solution we could come to," Theo Manyama, the SA Tour's tournament director, told Reuters.

"The original agreement between the SAPGA and Twas that there would be 10 spots per tournament, and we are basically sticking to that agreement.

"But we couldn't just say let there be 10 spots across the board. For example, for the Pietersburg Classic there might only be 10 spots in total. If they all went for black exemptions, that would nullify the point of a pre-qualifier."

Manyama said the black exemptions would be handed out solely on merit, with the so-called founder members -- those involved in the unification -- no longer being given automatic entry into tournaments.

"Our main aim was to try and avoid any favouritism and get rid of the founder member's clause so that we can develop our talented young black golfers," said Manyama.

The Tour's players' committee has also accepted the proposal.