Nelson Mandela Championship preview

The final European Tour event of 2013, The Nelson Mandela Championship presented by ISPS Handa, takes place this week at Mount Edgecombe Country Club in Durban.

The event has assumed increased publicity and significance following the death of 95-year-old Nelson Mandela last week, especially for the large number of South Africans in the field.

Indeed, the start date has been moved forward to Wednesday 11th December to avoid a clash with Mandela’s state funeral on Sunday 15th.

“It’s kind of bittersweet to be playing in the Nelson Mandela Championship just a week after Madiba’s death,” said Branden Grace.

“He always talked about excellence, and it’s good to try and show that in action. He was such an ambassador for the country – for the whole world, as well, really – and his memory will live on forever.

“If there’s one lesson we can learn from Madiba, it’s to keep trying.”

The event is co-sanctioned with the Sunshine Tour, so it provides a great opportunity for some lesser names to make an impact and secure a two-year European Tour exemption.

The Nelson Mandela Championship was inaugurated last year, with Scott Jamison winning the severely weather-affected tournament.

This year, the event will take place at Mount Edgecombe Country Club – a short, water and tree-strewn layout that will present ample birdie opportunities for those keeping their ball in play.

Grace, Jamieson, Robert Rock, Edoardo Molinari and George Coetzee are among the players looking to honour Mandela this week.

Venue: Mount Edgecombe Country Club, Durban, South Africa
Date: December 11-14
Course stats: Par 71, 6,612 yards
Purse: €1,000,000 Winner: €158,500
Defending Champion: Scott Jamieson

TV Coverage
:

Wednesday 11 – Sky Sports 4 from 12.30pm
Thursday 12 – Sky Sports 12 from 9.30 am
Friday 13 – Sky Sports 4 from 10am
Saturday 14 – Sky Sports 4 from 10am

Player watch:

Branden Grace
: Grace says his game is ‘so close’ to being back to its best and the passing of a national legend should provide further inspiration.

George Coetzee: Coetzee will win a tournament sooner rather than later, and he’ll be confident in a tournament with a relatively week field.

Kevin Phelan: The Irishman has made a great start to life as a professional golfer and will be looking to build on a good performance at the Alfred Dunhill Championship.

Key skill: Course management. There are birdies to be made around this short golf course, but only if you play shrewd golf, find fairways and keep your ball out of the numerous hazards.