Sun City field confirmed
Cape Town - The return of Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington, together with the entry of Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen, will ensure the 2010 Nedbank Golf Challenge can boast a number of major titles in its field.
Els (3), Harrington (3), Retief Goosen (2) and Oosthuizen (1) bring the total of golf's big-four championships to nine, but more importantly for South African fans the Big Easy is making his first appearance since 2007.
The three-time NCG champion and all-time leading money winner at the event is a huge coup for the organisers, and tournament director Alastair Roper is thrilled at the quality of the field, with potential world No 1 Lee Westwood also among the 12.
“We can never hope to make accurate predictions, but judging by the form shown by our invitees this year it is fair to assume that we can look forward to a thrilling contest,” said Roper. “We were always hopeful that we could secure the participation of the very best players for what is a very special tournament, and I am pleased to say that we have achieved this.”
Along with Els, Goosen and Oosthuizen, Tim Clark, who has also had an excellent year on the PGA Tour with a victory in The Players Championship, the South African challenge is a very strong one.
Taking them on will be a strong international contingent led by Lee Westwood, the highest-ranked player in the field currently at number two in the world, and who is likely to move into the number one position at the end of October. “Lee has made no secret of the fact that he loves competing in Sun City, and his acceptance of our invitation was most pleasing,” said Roper. “He has made a lot of friends in South Africa and his performances over the last two seasons would suggest that he is ready to take revenge for his defeat in the playoff against Ernie 10 years ago.”
This year there is an intriguing mix of talent that includes Italian sensation Eduardo Molinari, who has taken the European Tour by storm. He has the personality and a style of play that is sure to increase his fan base in Sun City. With Justin Rose and Ross Fisher also competing, two established stars that are also at the top of their games, there is no shortage of young firepower.
The experienced Harrington, who makes his first appearance since winning a trio of major titles, and the revitalised Miguel Angel Jimenez, will also add spice to the tournament. The defending champion Robert Allenby has again been the model of consistency this year, and although Anders Hansen will be considered to be an outsider in this company, if he can produce the brand of golf that earned him the Sunshine Tour’s order of merit last season he will not be outclassed.
“We obviously base our selection criteria on world rankings and performances in the major championships when we issue our invitations. Our aim is to secure the participation of 12 top-ranked players in the world, but that is unrealistic,” says Roper.
“Tiger Woods hosts the Chevron World Challenge which is scheduled for the same week, and this puts us in a difficult position. The lack of top American players in the field is unfortunate - the likes of Jim Furyk will be defending his Chevron title, and Phil Mickelson, has committed to play in Japan the same week as our tournament.”
Commenting on the 30th anniversary event, Andy Scott, Nedbank’s Head of Group Sponsorships, is confident that the field will attract the golf loving public and mark a fitting celebration of one of South Africa’s oldest sporting events. “The Nedbank Golf Challenge is undoubtedly an iconic event on the South African sporting calendar and it is a unique privilege to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the event at the end of the greatest sporting year in the country’s history.”
“After 30 years it is clear that the Nedbank Golf Challenge has established itself as Africa’s Major and the quality of this year’s field is proof of this,” he says.
The 12-man field is as follows:
Ernie Els (RSA)
Retief Goosen (RSA)
Louis Oosthuizen (RSA)
Lee Westwood (ENG)
Robert Allenby (AUS)
Tim Clark (RSA)
Edoardo Molinari (ITA)
Justin Rose (ENG)
Ross Fisher (ENG)
Padraig Harrington (IRE)
Miguel Angel Jimenez (ESP)
Anders Hansen (DEN)
Prize money for the event has been increase to $5 million, with the winner walking away with a cool $1 250 00, while last place can console himself with $250 00.
Prize money breakdown:
1st - $1 250 000
2nd - $660 000
3rd - $450 000
4th - $350 000
5th - $330 000
6th - $310 000
7th - $300 000
8th - $290 000
9th - $280 000
10th - $270 000
11th - $260 000
12th - $250 000