PREVIEW

Nedbank Golf Challenge: Field in focus

Ian Poulter

Just like that, another European Tour season is almost at an end.

The 2017 Nedbank Golf Challenge, taking place at Gary Player Country Club, Sun City, has brought together 69 of the top 77 players on the Race to Dubai for the penultimate event of the season.

Alex Noren posted a closing 63 to win the event last year and clinch his fourth victory of the season and, after a win earlier this year at the BMW PGA Championship, he arrives in South Africa looking for his sixth victory in just 18 months.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Nedbank Golf Challenge:

- - -

Six of the Race to Dubai top ten are in action at Sun City: Tommy Fleetwood (1, ranking), Tyrrell Hatton (5), Ross Fisher (6), Rafa Cabrera-Bello (7), Alex Noren (8) and Francesco Molinari (9).

- - -

With a win this week, Tommy Fleetwood will win his first Race to Dubai title. Closest rival Justin Rose, who is less than 135,000 points behind him, is not in the field this week but will be back in Dubai.

- - -

Of the Race to Dubai top 70, the following players are not teeing it up: Justin Rose (2), Sergio Garcia (3), Jon Rahm (4), Rory McIlroy (10), Henrik Stenson (11), Thomas Pieters (15), Patrick Reed (27), Robert Rock (70).

Tommy Fleetwood

- - -

There are only four past champions in the field: Alex Noren (2016), Thomas Bjorn (2013), Martin Kaymer (2012) and Lee Westwood (2010 & 2011).

- - -

A total of 22 countries will be represented at Gary Player Country Club. The biggest contingent will be English players – of which there are 17 in the field.

- - -

There are nine South Africans in action – Dylan Frittelli, Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace, George Coetzee, Dean Burmester, Brandon Stone, Richard Sterne, Haydn Porteous and Louis Oosthuizen – but no home player has won the event since Trevor Immelman in 2007.

- - -

Players are likely to breathe a huge sigh of relief at the absence of Henrik Stenson from the event due to a rib injury. His seven appearances since 2006, the Swede’s finishes read: Runner-up, fourth, winner, runner-up, fourth, runner-up, eighth.

- - -

There are four major winners in this week’s field: Louis Oosthuizen (2010 Open), Charl Schwartzel (2011 Masters), Padraig Harrington (2007 & 2008 Open and 2008 US PGA Championship) and Martin Kaymer (2010 US PGA Championship and 2014 US Open).

The X Factor Sr14 Ep15 56

Other items of note

For any of you reality TV fans out there, this week’s location may looks familiar. Three weeks ago, it was the backdrop for Nicole Scherzinger’s Judges Houses on the X Factor, where the ‘Overs’ category battled it out to make it to the live shows. Contestants also went on safari at Pilanesburg National Park.

- - -

Measuring 7,831 yards, The Gary Player Country Club is the third longest course in European Tour history – and longest in the 2017 season. In second, 18 yards longer than Sun City, is the Ritz-Carlton Golf in the USA, venue for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship between 2009-2011. The longest is another South African course, the Copperleaf Golf & Country Estate, where the 2014 Tshwane Open was played, measuring 7,964 yards.

- - -

The event itself started in 1981 as the ‘Million Dollar Challenge’ and was the first event in golf history to have a prize fund of $1m. Only five players participated in the inaugural staging – Seve Ballesteros, Johnny Miller, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Lee Trevino – with Miller coming away with the victory and $500,000 of the $1m.

Tiger Woods

- - -

The 1987 event had a ‘winner-takes-it-all’ $1m first prize, although there were additional prizes for the lowest round each day. The field had just eight players, with Ian Woosnam winning by four strokes for the first $1m prize in golf.

- - -

The ‘winner-takes-it-all’ idea was dropped for 1988, although the first prize remained at $1m. The format remained largely unchanged through 1999.

- - -

Tiger Woods made his one and only appearance in the event in 1998, where he lost in a play-off to Nick Price, who birdied the fifth extra play-off hole.

- - -

Last year’s event was where the famous mongoose invasion happened, where more than 20 of the animals interrupted play – but left golf balls well and truly alone.

Golf News

Paul McGinley 'disappointed' by Rory's Irish Open decision
Free clubs for Perthshire juniors thanks to Solheim Cup
MLB star breaks record for most golf holes played in 24 hours
WATCH: 500 balls, 1 day, 1 hole-in-one challenge
Michelle Wie 'to take some time away' from golf

Other Top Stories

Tiger Woods puts new irons in the bag
New Fife golf course gets go ahead
Review: Adare Manor, Ireland's rejuvenated masterpiece
Win a spot in the ASI Scottish Open Pro-Am with Hilton
Padraig Harrington targets 2020 Ryder Cup captaincy

Quick tips with Denis Pugh and Peter Barber See all videos right arrow

play button
Controlling the speed of your back swing
Watch
play button
How to stop topping the ball
Watch
play button
Clear the hips through impact
Watch
play button
Keep the club on plane in the takeaway
Watch
See all videos right arrow