As the 2017-18 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit winner, Coetzee qualifies automatically for the event, in a season in which he has already triumphed on South African soil, capturing his second career Tshwane Open title in March. He will now tee it up in an elite field that includes 2017 Masters Champion Sergio Garcia at the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City.
The 31 year old, who currently sits 41st in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex, has shown a propensity for winning at home with three of his four European Tour victories coming in South Africa.
Coetzee will look to follow in the footsteps of fellow countryman Branden Grace, who prevailed by a single shot at last year’s Nedbank Golf Challenge to become the first home winner of the event since Trevor Immelman in 2007, in the tournament’s inaugural year as a Rolex Series event.
“I’m really looking forward to playing the Nedbank Golf Challenge this year,” Coetzee said. “Gary Player is genuinely a legend of our sport, and, for him to host it, it really doesn’t get any better.
“It’s a fantastic tournament and I know all the players really enjoy coming out to South Africa because it is such a great week and an amazing place to visit. I’ve played the last couple of years and it’s obviously one that I want to be in the mix for.”
In 2014, Coetzee claimed his maiden European Tour victory at the Joburg Open, and then followed it up in 2015 with his first Tshwane Open trophy at his home course Pretoria Country Club. He went on to defeat Thorbjørn Olesen in a play-off later that season to take the 2015 AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, but was side-lined by a surfing injury not long afterwards.
After his second Tshwane title, he said: “A lot has happened since the last time I held that trophy. I broke my ankle and I kind of needed to show myself that I could win on Tour again and it's nice to come and do it again in front of the home crowd.”
Tournament host Gary Player said: “When the top players from around the world commit to play early, it creates a domino effect that helps us attract a world-class field to Sun City. I am thrilled George will be back, and he is already having a terrific season. We look forward to adding more of the world’s best players to the Nedbank Golf Challenge.”
Anthony Leeming, Chief Executive of Sun International added: “George is a fantastic addition to what is always a strong South African contingent in the Nedbank Golf Challenge, hosted by Gary Player. He is a proven European Tour winner and forms part of this current generation of South African golfers who grew up watching this tournament and who now want to make their own mark in this prestigious event. Branden Grace has started this process with his victory last year, and I’ve no doubt that a fit again George Coetzee will be just as keen to add ‘Africa’s Major’ to his growing list of titles.”
An event steeped in history, the Nedbank Golf Challenge list of former champions features a who’s who of golfing legends. The late, great Seve Ballesteros, is a two-time champion having won back-to-back titles in 1983 and 1984, along with Ernie Els (1999, 2000 and 2002), Bernhard Langer (1985 and 1991), Colin Montgomerie (1996), Sir Nick Faldo (1994), Nick Price (1993, 1997 and 1998) and Ian Woosnam (1987).
More recently, Sweden’s Alex Noren captured his first title in South Africa in 2016, along with 2016 Masters Champion Danny Willett in 2015, and European Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjørn in 2014.
Tickets for the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player will be on sale soon with further information here.