The Gary Player Country Club welcomes 30 of the world’s elite golfers this week
in the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
The European Tour continues to strengthen their association with South Africa as eight tournaments are now co-sanctioned with the Sunshine Tour. This should come as no surprise as the small nation of only 50 million has 24 Major Championships attributed to its countrymen and has emerged as a dominate force in the world of golf.
South Africa’s most successful golfer, Gary Player counts golf’s coveted Career Grand Slam, nine Major Championships on the PGA Tour, nine Major Championships on the Senior Tour, and 165 tournament victories among his accomplishments. Player continues to leave his mark on the game as the European Tour takes to two of his most acclaimed designs in the country, Leopard Creek and the Gary Player Country Club, for the Alfred Dunhill Championship and the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel is already off to a great start in the
2014 season following his success at the Dunhill. (Getty)
Following last week’s Dunhill staged at Leopard Creek, the Race to Dubai is already off to an sensational start as Charl Schwartzel, South Africa’s highest ranked golfer, took the title after firing four consecutive rounds of 68 or below.
Player’s design at Leopard Creek provided its own thrills as the course sits on the edge of Kruger National Park. Widely considered one of the best courses in the world, Leopard Creek is renowned for the variety of wildlife that regularly makes appearances on the course including giraffes, crocodiles, leopards and hippos.
The competition will heat up this week when the Nedbank Golf Challenge, “Africa’s Major”, is welcomed to the European Tour. Formerly a 12-man field, the new format expands to a field of 30 elite golfers to battle for the $6.5 million prize fund, as well as standings on the European Tour’s money list and points in the Official World Golf Rankings and The Race to Dubai.
“I’ve always been in favour of a bigger field,” said Gary Player. “Now that the field has grown to 30 of the world’s top golfers, I cannot wait to watch the tournament unfold. It will be an exciting tournament and I assure you the golf course will certainly provide a good test.”
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.
Gary Player Country Club
Spawning from a conversation Player had with Sun City developer Sol Kerzner in 1978, Player proposed launching a new golf tournament that would 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 has remained a fierce challenge for the world’s finest players over the years, and this year promises to be no different.