Major champions flock to Sun City

Louis Oosthuizen. Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images/AFP.

Louis Oosthuizen. Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images/AFP.

Defending champion will face a stiff challenge to retain his Nedbank Golf Challenge crown.

Five Major winners and five former champions will be out to dethrone Alex Noren, who rounded off a dream 2016 with victory at Sun City, when this year’s Nedbank Golf Challenge gets underway next week at the Gary Player Country Club.

Noren, a 35-year-old Swede who has been inside the top-10 of the world rankings, put the bow on a sensational 2016 season that featured four wins with his sixshot victory in the Nedbank Golf Challenge, and he returns to the scene of his triumph as one of six golfers inside the top-10 of the Race to Dubai order of merit, with Sun City being the penultimate tournament in the series.

The five Major winners who have confirmed their participation in the Nedbank Golf Challenge are South African favourites Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, former Sun City winners Henrik Stenson and Martin Kaymer, and three-time Major champion Padraig Harrington, whose invitation was announced yesterday.

“I’m delighted to be returning to Sun City and the Nedbank Golf Challenge where I have some great memories,” said Harrington, who recorded one of the lowest rounds in the history of the tournament when he shot 61 in the third round in 2001.

“My game is in good shape and I’m looking forward to finishing off the season on a strong note. There is always a strong field for the Nedbank Golf Challenge, which tends to bring out the best in your game, and the golf course is one I particularly enjoy.”

Other former champions who will be looking to blow Noren’s chances of being the first back-toback winner since Lee Westwood in 2010/11 are Kaymer, Westwood, Stenson and Thomas Bjorn.

As one of the eight prestige tournaments that make up the Rolex Series, the Nedbank Golf Challenge offers enhanced prize money and ranking points, which will be of special interest to the current leader of the Race to Dubai rankings, Tommy Fleetwood, as well as a further five players within the top 10 in Tyrrell Hatton (fi fth), Ross Fisher (sixth), Rafa Cabrera Bello (seventh), Noren (eighth) and Francesco Molinari (ninth).

This year’s event will see 72 players, playing over four days, for a purse of $7.5 million, from November 9 to 12.

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12 January 2019 TURFFONTEIN

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