This week is the penultimate event of the DP World Tour season as the Nedbank Golf Challenge returns for the first time since 2019. Here are your five things to know.
The Nedbank Golf Challenge is back
After three years away due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are back at Gary Player Country Club for the 40th anniversary edition of the Nedbank Golf Challenge. A highlight of the South African sporting calendar since it was first played in 1981, and part of the DP World Tour schedule since 2013, this year the ever-evolving event has a field of the top 60 available players from the DP World Tour Rankings in Partnership with Rolex, the winner of last season's Sunshine Tour Order of Merit and five invites. The trophy has previously been lifted by some of golf's greatest names including Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Ian Woosnam, Sir Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie, with Ernie Els a three-time winner.
Tommy Fleetwood makes a long-awaited defence this week and the Englishman has every reason to feel optimistic he can end his three-year winless run. His worst finish in five appearances at ‘Africa’s Major’ is a tie for 21st, with two ties for 14th and a tie for tenth before his 2019 victory. He currently sits 13th in the Rankings and arrives after a top five at the CJ Cup in South Carolina last time out, with top fives also under his belt at this year's Genesis Scottish Open and Open Championship. A host of home favourites will be confident of disrupting Fleetwood’s title defence, including Thriston Lawrence – a two-time winner on the DP World Tour this season – and George Coetzee, who arrives in Sun City after claiming his 14th Sunshine Tour title on Sunday.
The hunt for the Harry Vardon Trophy
With just two events of the season remaining, Ryan Fox could take a huge step towards becoming the first Kiwi to top the DP World Tour Rankings in Partnership with Rolex. A win this week in South Africa would see him leapfrog Rory McIlroy to Number One and have his fate firmly in his own hands next week in Dubai, while a second-placed finish would put him within touching distance of the Northern Irishman. Adrian Meronk, Jordan Smith, Lawrence and Fleetwood will all also be looking to boost their chances with a win this week at the US$6,000,000 event, which carries an increased number of DP World Tour Ranking Points, with 7,000 points available.
All to play for
While only a select few will still be able to win the Harry Vardon Trophy when the dust settles on the Nedbank Golf Challenge, every qualified player in the field at Gary Player Country Club has the chance to play their way into the season-ending DP World Tour Championship. The top 50 after this week will head to Jumeirah Golf Estates, with Wil Besseling the lowest qualified player in the Rankings at 76th. The Dutchman is just over 164 points behind 50th spot so will need one of his best results of the year if he is to make a second appearance at the season finale.
The skipper is in town
One of the five invites this week is European Ryder Cup Captain Luke Donald and he will be taking a close look at some of the players eager to get on his team. Vice Captain Edoardo Molinari is also in the field and while Fleetwood, Thorbjørn Olesen and Rafa Cabrera Bello will be hoping to add to their Ryder Cup records in 2023, the likes of Meronk, Robert MacIntyre, Smith and Rasmus and Nicolai Højgaard will be hoping to make their debuts.