30 of the world’s best players will tee it up at the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City this week to contest the Nedbank Golf Challenge. Thomas Bjorn is defending champion.

Lowdown:
30 of the world’s best players will tee it up at the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City this week to contest the Nedbank Golf Challenge. Thomas Bjorn is defending champion.

First played in 1981, the Nedbank Challenge can boast an incredible roll call of champions. Johnny Miller won the inaugural event and Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Nick Faldo, Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia, Retief Goosen and Martin Kaymer have all been winners. Last season Thomas Bjorn of Denmark produced a superb final round of 65 to win by two from Sergio Garcia and Jamie Donaldson.

The victory was a crucial stepping-stone for Bjorn, as he went on to secure automatic qualification for Paul McGinley’s 2014 Ryder Cup team. Bjorn will be joined on this year’s start-sheet by fellow Ryder Cup team members: Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Jamie Donaldson and Stephen Gallacher.

It’s a lucrative week for those fortunate enough to secure a start in Sun City. Even the man who finishes in last place here will receive a cheque for $100,000. As of last year, the tournament counts towards the Race to Dubai rankings, so it’s a great chance for players to get an early head-start.

The course at the Gary Player Country Club opened for play back in 1979. It’s a long and challenging track offering spectacular views of the Pilanesberg Mountains.

The weather this week looks slightly unsettled. It will be largely warm and sunny, but there could be a threat of thunderstorms. Don’t be surprised to see the odd rain delay.

Venue: Gary Player CC, Sun City, South Africa
Date: Dec 4-7
Course stats: par 72, 7,831 yards
Purse: $6,500,000 Winner: $1,250,000
Defending Champion: Thomas Bjorn (-20)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 4 – Sky Sports 4 from 8am
Friday 5 – Sky Sports 4 from 8am
Saturday 6 – Sky Sports 4 from 8am
Sunday 7 – Sky Sports 4 from 8am

Player Watch:
Joost Luiten – The Dutchman is one of the most talented players on the European Tour circuit. He’ll be looking to start this season with a bang. He was tied ninth in the DP World Tour Championship.

Alexander Levy – The Frenchman was a revelation in the 2014 season. He finished the year extremely strongly, picking up over €1 million in the last two months of the season.

George Coetzee – On home soil, Coetzee will be looking to start the 2015 season well. He’s another man who finished last year strongly and will aim to continue his good run of form.

Key hole: 17th. At 478 yards, this is a highly daunting par 4. Water guards the entire left side, threatening for both drive and approach. The right side is guarded by sand from the tee and a sprawling bunker short, right of the green. It requires two long, accurate shots and a big number is always possible here. Walk off with a par and breathe a huge sigh of relief.