It’s the penultimate event of the European Tour’s 2016 Race to Dubai this week. Henrik Stenson heads the standings going into the Nedbank Challenge, but a host of top players are close behind.
The Nedbank Challenge is the second of the three events on the European Tour’s Final Series. After Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen won the Turkish Airlines Open last week, almost all the leading Race to Dubai contenders will start at the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City, with only the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai to follow.
Nine of the top-10 on the standings will play in South Africa, only Rory McIlroy is missing. Henrik Stenson leads the way in the Race to Dubai with Danny Willett close behind. Tyrrell Hatton, Alex Noren, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Louis Oosthuizen, Chris Wood, Thorbjorn Olesen and Branden Grace round out the top-10.
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, Martin Kaymer and Danny Willett have all been winners. Last season Marc Leishman was the champion with Henrik Stenson in second place.
For this event, the starting field has been increased from 30 players to 72. These are the leading available players on the Race to Dubai standings.
It will be a lucrative week for all those on the start sheet. The winner picks up over €1,000,000 and there are prizes all the way down to 72nd spot. This tournament provides a great opportunity for players to make a move up the Race to Dubai standings and give themselves a chance to, either be in line to share the bonus pool (divided between the top-10) or simply to play in the season ending DP World Tour Championship next week in Dubai, (the top-60 on the standings after this event will be eligible for that event.)
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 forecast for the week is mixed. It should be warm but rain and thunderstorms are predicted. There could well be some disruptions to play.
Venue: Gary Player CC, Sun City, South Africa
Date: Nov 10-13
Course stats: par 72, 7,831 yards
Purse: €6,300,000 Winner: €1,050,000
Defending Champion: Marc Leishman (-19)
Thursday 10 – Sky Sports 4 from 9am
Friday 11 – Sky Sports 4 from 9am
Saturday 12 – Sky Sports 4 from 9am
Sunday 13 – Sky Sports 4 from 9am
Henrik Stenson – The Swede is leading the Race to Dubai contenders at this stage. He has enjoyed a great season and he’s returning to a course he enjoys – he was runner-up in this event last year. He was also runner-up on his last start in the WGC-HSBC Champions. He will be a deserving favourite in Sun City.
Alex Noren – He’s enjoyed an exceptional season with three victories. He’s pushing to climb the Race to Dubai standings and will give it everything this week. He’s a powerful player and should thrive on this course.
Alex Noren fairway bunker tips:
Nacho Elvira – The Spaniard has been playing solidly in recent weeks with back to back top-10 finishes in Portugal and Turkey. He could be a dark horse this week.
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.