Wed 08 Nov 2017, 15:47
Don't miss the Nedbank Golf Challenge live from Sun City on SuperSport 1 and streaming live on DStv Now.
Catch every drive, chip and putt as an elite field featuring some of the world’s top golfers slug it out for a big payday under African skies in the $7.5 million (R106.2 million) Nedbank Golf Challenge live from the Gary Player Country Club, Sun City from 9 to 12 November.
After a 10-year victory drought local golf fans are yearning for a South African name to be engraved on the famous Nedbank Golf Challenge (NGC) trophy again.
Trevor Immelman was the last South African to have held the crystal ball aloft in 2007 when he edged Justin Rose by a single stroke in a 12-player invitational field.
Tune in for the live Nedbank Golf Challenge coverage on Thursday 9 November 08:00 on SS1 and Friday 10 November to Sunday 12 November daily from 09:00 on SS1 (DStv Channel 201 streaming live on DStv Now). Highlights on DStv Catch Up later.
The NGC, hosted by golfing icon Gary Player at the pristine layout nestling in the Pilansberg valley and featuring an elite 72-player field, remains one of the big highlights of the South African sporting year.
Dubbed ‘Africa’s Major’, the tournament has enjoyed elevated status since being included on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai calendar and more recently, the new Rolex Series.
Only five South Africans – Fulton Allem, David Frost, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Immelman -- have won the NGC since its inception 36 years ago as a five-player Million Dollar invitational shootout. This includes multiple victories by Els (3) and Frost (3).
There will be nine local golfers in the field taking aim at the title in 2017, including Major winners Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel and a hungry pair of potential future stars in Dylan Frittelli and Haydn Porteous.
Also in the mix will be 2016/17 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit winner Brandon Stone, seasoned tour campaigners Branden Grace, Richard Sterne and George Coetzee and Dean Burmester.
A flutter on Frittelli, 27, might not be a bad idea. He returns home after a superb second place finish behind Justin Rose in the Turkish Airlines Open last weekend and he has surged up to 18th place on the current Race to Dubai rankings.
If one includes Oosthuizen (2010 Open champion) and Schwartzel (2011 Masters) who are bound to attract large galleries, there are four Major champions in the draw.
Also joining the stellar cast of golfers featuring Major winners, former world number one’s and past NGC champions are Irishman Padraig Harrington (2007, 2008 Open champion & 2008 PGA Championship) and the German Martin Kaymer (2010 US PGA and 2014 US Open winner)
The Swede Alex Noren, handily placed in eighth spot on the Race to Dubai, returns to Sun City to defend his title. Former world number one Lee Westwood of England, who will also tee it up this year, was the last player to defend an NGC title with back to back victories in 2010 and 2011.
Race to Dubai leader Tommy Fleetwood (England) is a massive drawcard while his big-hitting countryman Tyrell Hatton (fifth) remains the bookmakers’ favourite.
Past winner and current European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn is also no stranger to the long GPCC course while other Race to Dubai top ten contenders are Ross Fisher (sixth), Rafa Cabrera Bello (seventh) and Francesco Molinari (ninth).
Austrian Bernd Wiesberger (12th), England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick (13th) are also lurking close to a top 10 berth and also pose a threat.
But it would probably give the host himself – golfing legend, nine-time Major winner and SA Sporting Hall of Fame inductee Gary Player – no bigger pleasure than to hand the trophy over to a South African winner.
The NGC field:
Alex Noren (Sweden), Louis Oosthuizen (South Africa), Brandon Stone (South Africa), Thomas Bjørn (Denmark), Tommy Fleetwood (England), Padraig Harrington (Ireland), Tyrell Hatton (England), Ross Fisher (England), Rafa Cabrera Bello (Spain), Martin Kaymer (Germany), Francesco Molinari (Italy), Charl Schwartzel (South Africa), Bernd Wiesberger (Austria), Matthew Fitzpatrick (England), Paul Dunne (Ireland), Peter Uihlein (USA), Alexander Levy (France), Dylan Frittelli (South Africa), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Thailand), Haotong Li (China), Jordan Smith (England), Thorbjørn Olesen (Denmark), Hideto Tanihara (Japan), Nicolas Colsaerts (Belgium), Fabrizio Zanotti (Paraguay), Richie Ramsay (Scotland), Matthew Southgate (England), Lee Westwood (England), Ryan Fox (New Zealand), Joost Luiten (Netherlands), Mike Lorenza-Vera (France), Branden Grace (South Africa), Eddie Pepperell (England), Callum Shinkwin (England), Pablo Larrazabal (Spain), Andrew Dodt (Australia), Graeme Storm (England), Scott Hend (Australia), Alexander Björk (Sweden), Chris Wood (England), David Lipsky (USA), Jeunghun Wang (Korea), George Coetzee (South Africa), David Horsey (England), Søren Kjeldsen (Denmark), Shane Lowry (Ireland), Matthieu Pavon (France), David Drysdale (Scotland), Lucas Bjerregaard (Denmark), Adrian Otaegui (Spain), Dean Burmester (South Africa), Andy Sullivan (England), Marc Warren (Scotland), Julian Suri (USA), Sam Brazel (Australia), Gregory Bourdy (France), Richard Sterne (South Africa), Paul Waring (England), Ian Poulter (England), Jorge Campillo (Spain), Haydn Porteous (South Africa), Benjamin Hebert (France), Romain Wattel (France), Matt Wallace (England), Renato Paratore (Italy), Nacho Elvira (Spain), Edoardo Molinari (Italy), Victor Dubuisson (France), Stephen Gallacher (Scotland), Scott Jamieson (Scotland), Anthony Wall (England), Andres Romero (Argentina)
NGC Past Winners:
2016 – Alex Noren. 2015 – Marc Leishman. 2014 – Danny Willett. 2013 – Thomas Bjorn. 2012 – Martin Kaymer. 2011 – Lee Westwood. 2010 – Lee Westwood. 2009 – Robert Allenby. 2008 – Henrik Stenson. 2007 – Trevor Immelman. 2006 – Jim Furyk. 2005 – Jim Furyk. 2004 – Retief Goosen. 2003 – Sergio Garcia. 2002 – Ernie Els. 2001 – Sergio Garcia. 2000 – Ernie Els. 1999 – Ernie Els. 1998 – Nick Price. 1997 – Nick Price. 1996 – Colin Montgomerie. 1995 – Corey Pavin. 1994 – Nick Faldo. 1993 – Nick Price. 1992 – David Frost. 1991 – Bernhard Langer. 1990 – David Frost. 1989 – David Frost. 1987 – Fulton Allem. 1986 – Mark McNulty. 1985 – Bernhard Langer. 1984 – Seve Ballesteros. 1983 – Seve Ballesteros. 1982 – Ray Floyd. 1981 – Johnny Miller
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By Trevor Cramer