A select field of just 12 players has gathered in Sun City this week to do battle for the Nedbank Golf Challenge. Lee Westwood from England is defending champion and is looking to make it three wins in a row.
Following his second place finish in last week’s DP World Tour Championship, Justin Rose has climbed to fourth on the Official World Golf Ranking and is the highest ranked player in the field this week. Lee Westwood is second best – sixth in the rankings – and seventh placed Louis Oosthuizen will also tee it up.
Oosthuizen will spearhead the home challenge, though he’ll be ably supported by Charl Schwartzel and Garth Mulroy.
Bill Haas is the only American player to make the journey to South Africa and eight of the 12 players on the start sheet are from Europe.
First contested 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 and Retief Goosen have all been winners.
Last season Lee Westwood successfully defended the title he had won in 2010. He effectively claimed the tournament with a scintillating third round of 62. Despite a poor final round of 73, the Englishman did enough to hold off Sweden’s Robert Karlsson by two shots.
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.
Venue: The Gary Player Country Club, Sun City, South Africa
Date: Nov 29 – Dec 2
Course stats: par 72, 7,833 yards
Purse: $5,000,000 Winner: $1,250,000
Defending Champion: Lee Westwood (-17)
Thursday 29 – Sky Sports 1 from 9am
Friday 30 – Sky Sports 1 from 9am
Saturday 1 – Sky Sports 1 from 9am
Sunday 2 – Sky Sports 1 from 9am
Louis Oosthuizen – The 2010 Open champion is one of the world’s most on-form players right now. He’s finished in the top-10 in his last five tournament starts and lost out in a playoff in Singapore three weeks ago. He’s only appeared once in this event and finished dead last. Expect for him to be at the other end of the leaderboard this time around.
Justin Rose – He’ll surely be feeling buoyed after his last round 62 in Dubai. He’s up to a career-high of fourth in the World and is one of the few players in the field with past experience in this event. He was second back in 2007.
Charl Schwartzel – He has three appearances here with a best finish of fifth. Third last week in Dubai and fifth the week before that. He’d love to secure a home victory 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.
World Challenge presented by Northwestern Mutual – Preview