The European Tour remains in South Africa this week for the Nedbank Golf Challenge. 30 of the world’s best golfers will share a $6,500,000 purse in Sun City.
The Nedbank Golf Challenge features a limited field of just 30 players. Defending champion Danny Willett will tee it up together with a selection of European and international stars. Last week’s winner Charl Schwartzel is on the start sheet, so too are Henrik Stenson, Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace and Victor Dubuisson.
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 Danny Willett took the title after an impressive final round of 66. He finished four clear of Ross Fisher with 54-hole leader Luke Donald in third.
It was an important win for Willett. It gave him a healthy lead on the Race to Dubai rankings and provided him the platform to challenge for the Race to Dubai title right up to the final day at Jumeirah Golf Estates two weeks ago.
It will be a lucrative week for all those on the start sheet. The winner picks up $1,250,000 and even the man who finishes dead last, in 30th place, will walk away with a cheque for $100,000.
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.
This event appears twice on the 2016 Race to Dubai. Not only is it part of the early schedule this week but it’s also a feature of the Final Series towards the end of 2016. The 2016 Nedbank Golf Championship will take place next November, the week before the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. For that event the field will be increased from 30 to 72 players.
The weather forecast for Sun City is, surprisingly not fully for sun. Rain could be a problem on Thursday and Friday. One thing is certain though – it’s going to be hot. Temperatures of up to 37° are predicted.
Venue: Gary Player CC, Sun City, South Africa
Date: Dec 3-6
Course stats: par 72, 7,831 yards
Purse: $6,500,000 Winner: $1,250,000
Defending Champion: Danny Willett (-18)
Thursday – Sky Sports 4 from 8am
Friday – Sky Sports 4 from 8am
Saturday – Sky Sports 4 from 8am
Sunday – Sky Sports 4 from 8am
Matthew Fitzpatrick – The young English player had a brilliant debut season on the European Tour, earning over €2 million. He notched up 10 top-10 finishes, including victory in the British Masters. Look for him to continue to progress this year.
Matt Fitzpatrick talks about life on Tour:
Kiradech Aphibarnrat – He’s been on great form over the last couple of months with three top five finishes on the European Tour. He was fifth in this event last year.
Ross Fisher – The Englishman was runner-up in this event last year and he has the game for this course. He was tied third in the recent WGC-HSBC Champions so he’s been showing good 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.