The fifth and final tournament of the European eTour season, begins on Thursday at the Nedbank Golf Challenge. Eight of the best players in the WGT game will go head-to-head for a chance to win a first place prize of $5,000 and all-important ranking points for the Global Finals.
2020, eTour champion, golfx3, will be looking to go one better this time round after finishing runner up at the BMW PGA Championship. It will be a tough first round clash however, as he faces fmagnets, real name Christopher Aitken, who is lying third in the Global Rankings for the 2021 season and is often regarded as the greatest player in the WGT game.
golfx3, real name Payton Gordley, currently finds himself sitting second in the Global Rankings, and will be looking to sit on top of those come the end of the week. Not one to get ahead of himself, he is aware of the threat that fmagnets poses in this first round clash.
“I often say he [fmagnets] is the favourite for these events and he eventually will win one of them -that’s for sure”
fmagnets though, is not putting too much pressure on himself this time round.
“I am in the Global Finals and that’s great. No pressure – I can just enjoy this event. I have done a bit more work with my Swedish mental coach to try to help me get over the line on the eTour.”
The winner of golfx3 vs fmagnets will face the winner of Young46 vs Stuman66. Young46, real name Jason Young, will be hoping to reach another semi-final, having only lost one quarter final match in his eTour career which came at the BMW PGA Championship in September.
Young is delighted to have reached the Nedbank finals, having successfully emerged from a tough qualifying bracket and is determined to defend the title he won in 2020.
“It is always a fun but stressful qualification weekend, and it feels amazing when you qualify. I now expect to win. I always do….I won the Nedbank event last year and I am going to do it again this time.”
Stuman66 is the first player standing between Young’s and the title this time round. The architect from Long Island, New York will be hoping to add his name to the winners’ circle this week. Stuart Johnson, Stuman66’s real name, understands the need for a perfect performance to emerge victorious against Young.
“On the day, I have to play flawlessly, I know that. I have to hit the ding every time and then hope for the best”.
In the other side of the draw, Jsmithers will be facing IAG12. The number one seed, real name Joshua Smith, claimed the first two events of the eTour season and will be hoping for similar success at the Nedbank Golf Challenge. Jsmithers sits on top of the points list and has already cemented his place at the Global Finals in November. In his pre-tournament interview, Smith said:
“I have to see myself as the favourite. My ability to play quickly without missing a shot – that is my strength and that plays to my advantage.”
Smiths opponent, IAG12 will be acutely aware of the challenge in front of him. The debutant from Spain, real name Ivan Aguila, will be hoping to kick off his eTour career in style by defeating the top seed.
In the final quarter-final matchup Shefuf, real name Casey Sheffield, faces the home favourite gerhardj1, real name Gerhard Jooste.
Sheffield, who will be playing from his home in Florida, has been playing WGT since 2015, and is hoping that practice will pay off at the Nedbank Golf Challenge on Thursday. A runner up finish at the Global Finals in 2020 showcases the credentials of Shefuf on the biggest of stages.
“I am really excited to be in the hunt to get into the Global Finals. I really want to be in with a chance to win the money again this year, that would be awesome. I have a tough challenge in Gerhard as he is a phenomenal player. He is probably where I was a few years ago. Very dangerous. It should be a good match”.
Gerhard, an eTour debutant, and who resides in South Africa, is hoping to please the home fans on Thursday.
“I am proud of myself, and I am proud of representing my country. I can’t wait to get started. It means a lot for me to receive positive messages. I have beaten a lot of the best players in the game before, so I think I am good enough.”
The Nedbank Golf Challenge is the final event before the Global Finals, with several players still in with a chance of qualifying for the end of season finale.
The players who have already secured qualification to the Global Finals are:
· Jsmithers (USA)
· golfx3 (USA)
· fmagnets (GB)
· Young46 (USA)
· Stuman66 (USA)
· birchi (GER)
However, there are several other players that can still make it to the Global Finals. Here are the scenarios:
If Shefuf can beat gerhardj1 in his opening round match, he will secure a spot in the Global Finals.
AIG12 must also win his quarter final and secure a better season up or down record than BlaisAlex (1DN), to secure his spot.
Gerhardj1 is in a similar situation. He must win his quarter final and record a better up or down score than BlaisAlex.
There are also two players who are currently in the top eight, who are not making an appearance on Thursday meaning that qualification for the Global Finals is out of their control.
BlaisAlex, will lose his seat in the Global Finals if either Shefuf and AIG12 both reach the semi-final or if one of the players reaches the semi-final and gerhardj1 reaches the final.
ECC370, will lose his seat at The Global Finals if Shefuf reaches the semi-final. If gerhardj1 or AIG12 reach the semi-final it will be up to the up or down score that determines who will progress with ECC370 sitting 2DN.
It looks set to be a thrilling tournament. Join us on European Tour, WGT and Dreamhack socials 18.00 GMT this Thursday to watch the live action.