Johannesburg - The complete 72-player field for this year’s Nedbank Golf Challenge (NGC) will only be officially announced a week before the event early next month.
The African major tees off at Gary Player Country Club in Sun City on November 9.
With most players still involved in other events, the field will only be confirmed after completion of the Turkish Airlines Open. The European Tour-sanctioned Open forms part of the Race to Dubai and will be played at the Regnum Carya Golf and Spa Resort in Antalya, Turkey, from November 2 to 5.
The NGC carries a staggering $7.5 million (R102 million) purse prize. This lucrative showdown, which pits some of the world’s finest golfers against each other, takes place as part of the tour’s new Rolex system – a premium category of eight events on the Race to Dubai.
Players eyeing the NGC need to compete at the Italian Open, which gets under way at Golf Club Milano in Monza on Thursday.
Sun International sports marketing manager Dan Sevel said: “We need to wait for the winner of the Turkish Airlines event before we will know who will definitely make the trip to Sun City.
“At the moment, it’s a bit early to lure all the golfers to register to come to South Africa as their tour schedule is tight".
Only five golfers have confirmed their participation at Sun City – defending champion Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Thomas Bjørn, and local pair Louis Oosthuizen and Brandon Stone.
Stenson won the 2008 NGC and snatched the British Open last year after beating US veteran Phil Mickelson by three strokes at Royal Troon in Scotland.
Bjørn, who will be next year’s Ryder Cup captain, won the NGC trophy in spectacular fashion four years ago after sweeping aside competition from the likes of Sergio Garcia, Stenson and Justin Rose to claim his 15th European Tour title.
Most special weeks
Oosthuizen won the 2010 British Open at St Andrews and will be making his 13th appearance at Sun City. He is enjoying a good run on the courses and is the country’s highest world-ranked player – at number 20.
“I'm always excited to play in the Nedbank Golf Challenge and I can’t wait to tee it up again this year. Playing in front of a home crowd is always a lot of fun. It all adds up to make this one of the most special weeks on tour,” Oosthuizen said a few days ago.
Stone bagged the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek in Mpumalanga in December. Before that, he lifted the South African Open trophy at Glendower Country Club in January.
The NGC field will most likely feature players who have taken part in the event in the past. England’s Tommy Fleetwood, who is leading the Race to Dubai’s top 10, could make his debut at Sun City.