The 2019 Race to Dubai nears its conclusion with the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player, the penultimate event of the season. Here are several key storylines to look out for this week.
There will be a plethora of stars teeing it up in Sun City in the event dubbed ‘Africa’s Major’, including five Major Champions, who share 11 titles between them.
Ernie Els, twice a winner of the U.S. Open Championship and The Open, will no doubt attract the crowds when he joins eight of his compatriots on home soil, including The 139th Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen.
Fellow Open winner Henrik Stenson returns to Gary Player Country Club for the first time in three years, joining two-time Major star Martin Kaymer and Europe’s 2020 Ryder Cup Captain and three-time Major Champion Padraig Harrington.
Race to Dubai nearing conclusion
After 45 events on the 2019 Race to Dubai, only two remain, with the battle for European Tour Number One still raging as the Tour returns to South Africa.
Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger currently leads the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex, aiming to become the first Austrian to be crowned European Tour Number One. However, there is an array of players hot on his heels who will also be teeing it up this week, including four of the top ten on the Race to Dubai. Matt Fitzpatrick is Wiesberger’s closest rival in the field, occupying fourth in the season-long Rankings.
Lee Westwood returned to the winner’s circle for the first time since 2014 when he won his first Rolex Series event at the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player last year.
The Englishman’s previous victory came at the 2014 Maybank Malaysian Open and he held back the tears in Sun City to lift the trophy aloft after rounds of 71-69-69 and a stunning final round of 64, eight under par.
A year on, the former World Number One will defend his title as he looks to become a two-time Rolex Series winner.
Rolex Series importance
The Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player marks the seventh Rolex Series event on the 2019 Race to Dubai. Each of these premium events sees a world-class field with a minimum prize fund of US$7 million, and this week, players will be battling it out for US$7.5 million and 9,000 Race to Dubai points, with the winner receiving a cheque for US$2.5million
The field features six Rolex Series winners, including Alex Noren and Bernd Wiesberger who have both won two Rolex Series events.
Designed by the career Grand Slam winner and bearing his name, the Gary Player Country Club is one of the most breath-taking courses in South Africa.
The course opened in 1979 and is surrounded by Pilanesberg National Park, where sightings of the big five - lions, Cape buffaloes, elephants, leopards and rhinos - are common along with a host of other wildlife.
At 7,831 yards, it is one of the longest courses on the 2019 Race to Dubai circuit and players can expect a tough test when the action gets under way on Thursday November 14.