A place at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, field is on the line this week for some of those teeing it up in South Africa.
At the conclusion of the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player, the top 60 players in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex will travel to the Middle East for the showpiece finale.
Ahead of the action in Sun City, europeantour.com previews the men just inside and outside the cut-off mark.
Lee Slattery – 55th
Current points total: 709,907
It’s been a mixed season for one of the most popular guys on Tour. He secured a standout third place at the Italian Open in June and finished in a share of fourth at the D+D REAL Czech Masters but top 20s have been hard to come by, with just five all season.
Since 2015, the Englishman has finished the season inside the top 80. A strong couple of weeks could see the 40 year old record his best rankings finish since ending the 2015 season in 45th place. In 61st place, Nacho Elvira would need at least 78,783 points to edge Slattery out of the top 60. Another top 30 finish like last season should be enough for Slattery to make the trip to Jumeirah Golf Estates.
Hideto Tanihara – 56th
Current points total: 679,124
After three top sixes in less than two months, Hideto Tanihara did his chances of making the final event of the season no harm at all. The Japanese’s strong performances towards the end of the summer at the Porsche European (T5), Omega European Masters (T6) and KLM Open (T3) has given the 39 year old a real chance of making his second appearance at the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
Two missed cuts in his last four tournaments mean Tanihara won’t arrive in Sun City in the best of form. However, he can take confidence from the fact that top fives at the Maybank Championship and the Porsche European Open this season came following missed cuts.
Matthew Southgate – 57th
Current points total: 670, 681
A share of fifth at the HNA Open de France gave Matt Southgate a foundation for a summer that resulted in eight made cuts in a row. In that time, the Englishman recorded top 20s at the Nordea Masters and Made in Denmark to keep his position in the Race to Dubai Rankings ticking over.
He missed out on this event last year due to injury but finished in a share of 39th in his only other appearance in this event in 2016. Southgate hasn’t finished outside the top 60 since 2015, so he’ll believe he can make it to Dubai once more.
Joost Luiten – 58th
Current points total: 666, 245
Despite missing four months of the season with injury, Joost Luiten has given himself an excellent chance of being in Dubai next week. He won the inaugural NBO Oman Open in February and secured two other top tens before a wrist problem took him out of action.
Upon returning, the six-time Tour winner has played some excellent golf. A share of 11th at the Andalucía Valderrama Masters was followed by a tie for 23rd at the Turkish Airlines Open last week. Luiten has played this event every year since 2010 and past form in Sun City suggests he’ll do enough to make it to the Earth Course again; in four previous appearances, he’s never finished outside the top 24 in South Africa.
Joakim Lagergren – 59th
Current points total: 659, 988
A first European Tour win at the Rocco Forte Sicilian Open in May capped off Joakim Lagergren’s most lucrative period of the season. The man from Stockholm had finished in a tie for third at the Trophée Hassan II a few weeks previously, meaning he had earned 302,050 points in less than a month.
Lagergren’s form has been mixed since, with just two cuts made in his last seven tournaments. He has made it to Dubai only once before in 2016 and will need a fine week in Sun City if he is to return for a second time.
Chris Paisley – 60th
Current points total: 656, 315
Another man whose strong start to the season provided him with a firm foundation, Chris Paisley won his maiden title at the BMW SA Open in January. He edged out home favourite Branden Grace to lift the trophy before following it with back-to-back top fives at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
The man on the bubble has picked up a couple of timely pay cheques at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and Turkish Airlines Open after three missed cuts. At this time of year, Paisley has been more accustomed to battling to keep his card, so the chance to make it to Dubai would cap off what’s been a life-changing year.
Nacho Elvira – 61st
Current points total: 631, 124
There are plenty of positives for Spain’s Nacho Elvira to take from the 2018 season. He finished outright third in the Open de España and fourth at the Omega European Masters in a campaign that has seen him consistently earn points. Since February, Elvira hasn’t missed more than one cut in a row, helping him into a position where a second appearance at the Earth Course seems possible.
A third straight top 30 finish at the Nedbank Golf Challenge would give him a chance of making the journey to Dubai.
Benjamin Hebert – 62nd
Current points total: 617, 733
A prolific Challenge Tour winner, Benjamin Hebert is yet to translate that success into trophies on the European Tour. He has hovered around the top 60 since 2015 and looks set to finish around that mark again unless he can finish the season in style. The 31 year old was runner-up in the Belgian Knockout to Adrian Otaegui in May but hasn’t cracked a top ten since.
Hebert is yet to play in the season finale in Dubai and begins his week in Africa 38,582 points behind Chris Paisley in 60th. A repeat of his share of 19th last season would give him an opportunity to tee it up at the DP World Tour Championship for the first time.
Dean Burmester – 63rd
Current points total: 614, 233
After winning his first European Tour title last season, Dean Burmester hasn’t been able to kick on in the way he would have liked. An excellent tie for fourth at last year’s DP World Tour Championship, Dubai showed what the South African is capable of. Just one top ten this season - a share of ninth at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open - means he is on the periphery of the top 60 heading into this week.
However, a return to home turf could inspire him to produce the strong week he needs to make next week’s field in Dubai. He finished 42nd in the Rankings last season and will know at top 30 finish is required this week if he’s to come close to bettering that.
Robert Rock – 64th
Current points total: 596, 664
With just one missed cut in his last ten events, Robert Rock has given himself a real chance of making it to Dubai. The Englishman hasn’t teed it up at the final event of the season since 2012 and will certainly need to better his tie for 55th in his only appearance here in 2016.
He looks likely to at least record his highest finish in the Rankings in six years, but a trip to Dubai will act as even more motivation for Rock to make up the points difference.
Pablo Larrazábal – 65th
Current points total: 589, 670
The theme of starting the season strongly continues with Pablo Larrazábal. Three top fours in the space of just over a month gave Barcelona-born Larrazábal a perfect start to the campaign but he hasn’t cracked the top ten since.
A tie for 18th in Turkey last week earned the Spaniard 76,186 points in his quest to make the top 60. He hasn’t missed out on Dubai since 2010, so expect to see him go all out to make it eight in a row.