Nedbank Golf Challenge

9 SA stars to fly flag at Sun City

2016-11-09 14:31
Louis Oosthuizen (AP)

Cape Town - The Nedbank Golf Challenge tees off on Thursday and for this first time it will form part of the European Tour schedule.

TEE-TIMES: Nedbank Golf Challenge - Round 1

The tournament, to be hosted by SA golfing legend Gary Player, is the penultimate event on the 2016 European Tour’s Race to Dubai.

Nine South Africans form part of the 72-man field that will tee off at the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City.

The last time a South African lifted the Nedbank Golf Challenge trophy was in 2007 when Trevor Immelman won with a score of 16-under par.

Before that Retief Goosen won in 2004 while Ernie Els was victorious on three occasions (1999, 2000, 2002). David Frost (1989, 1990, 1992) and Fulton Allem (1988) are the only other South Africans to have won the title since inception in 1981.

According to the latest Race to Dubai rankings, two South Africans lie in the top 10 of the standings - Louis Oosthuizen (7) and Branden Grace (10).

This week's winner will pocket a cool $1 166 660 (R15.8m), while the golfer who finishes 72nd - and last - will have to "console" himself with $11 200 (R150 000).

A look at the nine SA players participating in the 2016 Nedbank Golf Challenge:

1. Louis Oosthuizen

The 34-year-old Oosthuizen is seventh heading into Sun City in the Race to Dubai rankings.

He had five straight top-15 finishes this year including a win at the ISPS HANDA Perth International and a runner-up finish at the WGC-Dell Match Play.

Oosthuizen shared 11th at Sun City last year.

He tees off on Thursday at 11:45.

2. Branden Grace

World No 15 Grace is South Africa’s highest ranked golfer, but has had a quiet year by his lofty standards, despite becoming the first player to win back-to-back Qatar Masters titles.

He is currently 10th in the Race to Dubai rankings and finished tied fourth after carding under-par eight in last year’s Nedbank Golf Challenge.

He tees off on Thursday at 11:35.

3. Retief Goosen

Goosen, a two-time US Open major winner, returns to Sun City after being granted a special invitation to play this year.

In 2004, Goosen not only won the Nedbank Challenge, but also won the US Open and the Smurfit European Open.

He tees off on Thursday at 11:00.

4. Charl Schwartzel

The 2011 Masters champion defeated American Bill Haas to capture the Valspar Championship in March this year and became the only South African to participate in the FedExCup at the season-ending Tour Championship.

Schwartzel, 31, finished ninth last year and will be looking to take his good form from 2016 into the 2017 season.

He tees off on Thursday at 10:30.

5. Richard Sterne

Sterne has had a quiet season this year with only a runner-up finish at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship to boast about.

The 35-year-old will be looking to improve on his last appearance in the NGC where he finished tied 14th in 2013.

He tees off on Thursday at 10:15.


6. Brandon Stone

Stone claimed his first European tour title on home soil by clinching the SA Open in January.

The 23-year-old, who represented South Africa at the Rio Olympic Games, will play in his first Nedbank Golf Challenge tournament.

He tees off on Thursday at 09:45.

7. George Coetzee

Coetzee booked his spot at Sun City this week after closing with a brilliant fifth-place finish in the Turkish Airlines Open last week.

The 30-year-old finished tied 16 in last year's Nedbank Golf Challenge and will be hoping to secure a spot in next week's DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

He tees off on Thursday at 09:20.

8. Jaco Van Zyl

Van Zyl has had a decent year, finishing seventh in the BMW PGA Championship and represented South Africa at the Rio Olympics.

The 37-year-old finished tied 13th at last year's Nedbank Golf Challenge.

He tees off on Thursday at 08:50.

9. Thomas Aiken

The 33-year-old Aiken has four top-20 finishes this year with his best effort coming at the BMW PGA Championship where he ended fourth.

Aiken finished tied 13th alongside  Jaco van Zyl at last year's Nedbank Golf Challenge.

He tees off on Thursday at 07:55.

All images: Getty

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