Cape Town - Open champion Henrik Stenson, the world’s fifth
ranked player, will bring his Major-winning presence to the star-studded cast
of the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player in the penultimate event of
the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.
The Swede will be joined at the Gary Player
Country Club in South Africa’s magnificent Sun City resort by defending
champion Marc Leishman, who forced Stenson into second place last year with an
inspired performance as he raced to a six-shot victory.
Now part of the Race to Dubai’s Final Series,
the Nedbank Golf Challenge will welcome 72 of the world’s best players to
contest a US$7 million prize fund as the battle to be crowned the European
Tour’s number one player nears its climax.
Among those 72 will be South Africa’s highest
ranked trio of Branden Grace (13th), former Open champion Louis
Oosthuizen (20th) and former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel (25th),
as well as George Coetzee.
Other notable appearances in the first wave of
star names released by tournament organisers include European Ryder Cup players
Rafa Cabrera Bello, Thomas Pieters, Andy Sullivan and Chris Wood, who will join
Stenson as part of Darren Clarke’s European team heading to Hazeltine to defend
The Ryder Cup against the USA next week.
Stenson, winner of the Nedbank Golf Challenge in
2008, is relishing a return to Sun City where he will look to close out the
greatest season of his career by adding what is dubbed “Africa’s Major” to the
Olympic silver medal and Claret Jug he won so spectacularly at Royal Troon
after an unforgettable battle with Phil Mickelson.
He said: "The Nedbank Golf Challenge is one of
those tournaments which grabs the attention at the end of the year, and now
that it is part of the Race to Dubai’s Final Series it has taken another step
up in terms of importance. Sun City is such a great resort as well that it’s a
week I really enjoy at the end of the season.
"I am second on the Race to Dubai at the moment
and I know that if I can win the Nedbank Golf Challenge then I will have a
great chance to finish the season as number one, which would be the perfect way
to end what has obviously been a very special year for me. I love the course at
the Gary Player Country Club and know what it takes to win round there.
"I won the BMW International Open in Germany in
June which gave me a lot of confidence and then the rest is history I suppose.
The Major was the one thing really missing from my career, so to win The Open
was fantastic. It’s very cool to be introduced on the first tee everywhere you
go as The Open champion, and I think I will get an amazing reception at Sun
City because the crowds there are always brilliant down in South Africa."
Alastair Roper, Sun International’s Tournament
Director of the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player, expressed his
delight at the first wave of stars to commit to this year’s tournament.
"To have such a mix of global stars including
Major winners, Olympic golfers and Ryder Cup players is just the beginning of
what I know is going to be one of the strongest fields we have ever had in the
Nedbank Golf Challenge. Our positioning on the Race to Dubai is going to ensure
that South African golf fans are in for an amazing week of golf at Sun City."
The array of stars already committed has also
been welcomed by tournament sponsor Nedbank.
"We have taken a significant step up this year
in terms of our investment in ‘Africa’s Major’ and it was with exactly this
kind of player response in mind that we did this. I think this early response
from some of the biggest names in world golf is indeed a reflection of the
tournament’s new elevated status, and no doubt a sign of even bigger things to
come," said Mike Brown, Chief Executive Officer of Nedbank.
Sun International has confirmed that there will
be no increase in ticket prices for the 2016 tournament.
On Tuesday 8 November and Wednesday 9 November,
an adult ticket will still cost R80. For Thursday 10 November and Friday 11
November, the cost will be R180. And for Saturday 12 November and Sunday 13
November, an adult ticket will cost R200. All prices exclude an official
Children between the ages of 12 and 17 will gain
free access on Tuesday 8 November and Wednesday 9 November. On Thursday 10
November and Friday 11 November, the cost of a ticket will be R90. And on
Saturday 12 November and Sunday 13 November, the cost will be R100. All prices
exclude an official tournament programme.
Children under 12 years of age will gain free
access for the duration of the tournament, and excluding an official tournament