The Nedbank Golf Challenge will once again be the highlight of the South African golf year, with the 2014 tournament to be played on Sun International’s flagship track and golf icon Gary Player’s namesake course, the Gary Player Country Club, at Sun City from 4-7 December.
Recognized as one of the top courses in South Africa, the Gary Player Country Club will welcome the field that includes half of the victorious European Ryder Cup team as well as three former World Number One players.
“With yet another stellar field, the Nedbank Golf Challenge is sure to be a thrill this year,” said golf icon and tournament host Gary Player. “In its 32nd year, the tournament continues to shine and showcase our beautiful country of South Africa on a global stage.”
Africa’s Major, which is co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and European Tour, will feature a world-class field of 30 players competing for a total purse of $6.5-million, as well as standings on the European Tour’s money list and points in the Official World Golf Rankings and The Race to Dubai.
Denmark’s Thomas Bjørn will return to defend his title on the Gary Player-designed golf course that is expected to again be at its best for the prominent African tournament.
In addition to Bjørn, notables returning to South Africa are Lee Westwood, who is making his 10th appearance in the Nedbank Golf Challenge, and Martin Kaymer who is seeking to add to his 2012 triumph at Sun City.
The illustrious history of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, formerly the Million Dollar Challenge, can be seen by the impressive list of past champions including Johnny Miller, Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Nick Price, Colin Montgomerie, Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia, Retief Goosen, and Lee Westwood.
“We compare ourselves a lot with a Major like the Masters at Augusta, because you are presenting the same golf course for the same event at the same time every year,” says Antonie Els, the Director of Golf at Sun City. “We have returning sponsors and clients, media and TV viewers year in, year out, and people expect bigger and better every year. So we challenge ourselves in every little detail to see how we can improve.”
Gary Player will serve as host of the “African Major” once again, but his involvement extends back to the original conceptualization of the Million Dollar Challenge.
The groundbreaking tournament originated from conversation between Player and Sun City developer Sol Kerzner as the Black Knight wanted to launch a tournament to bring the world’s top players to South Africa and wanted to offer something that no other tournament in the world did – a $1 million first place check.
The Million Dollar Challenge officially launched in 1981 and the rest remains history.
The par-72 Gary Player Country Club is once again sure to be a fierce challenge for the world’s finest players next week.