NGC Chal­lenge field takes shape

CityPress - - Sport - PULE MOKHINE pmokhine@city­press.co.za

The com­plete 72-player field for this year’s Ned­bank Golf Chal­lenge (NGC) will only be of­fi­cially an­nounced a week be­fore the event early next month.

The African ma­jor tees off at Gary Player Coun­try Club in Sun City on Novem­ber 9.

With most play­ers still in­volved in other events, the field will only be con­firmed af­ter com­ple­tion of the Turk­ish Air­lines Open. The Euro­pean Tour-sanc­tioned Open forms part of the Race to Dubai and will be played at Reg­num Carya Golf and Spa Re­sort in An­talya, Turkey, from Novem­ber 2 to 5.

The NGC car­ries a stag­ger­ing $7.5 mil­lion (R102 mil­lion) purse prize. This lu­cra­tive show­down, which pits some of the world’s finest golfers against each other, takes place as part of the tour’s new Rolex sys­tem – a pre­mium cat­e­gory of eight events on the Race to Dubai.

Play­ers eye­ing the NGC need to com­pete at the Ital­ian Open, which gets un­der way at Golf Club Mi­lano in Monza on Thurs­day.

Sun In­ter­na­tional sports mar­ket­ing man­ager Dan Sevel said: “We need to wait for the win­ner of the Turk­ish Air­lines event be­fore we will know who will def­i­nitely make the trip to Sun City.

“At the mo­ment, it’s a bit early to lure all the golfers to reg­is­ter to come to South Africa as their tour sched­ule is tight.”

Only five golfers have con­firmed their par­tic­i­pa­tion at Sun City – de­fend­ing cham­pion Alex Noren, Hen­rik Sten­son, Thomas Bjørn, and lo­cal pair Louis Oosthuizen and Bran­don Stone.

Sten­son won the 2008 NGC and snatched the Bri­tish Open last year af­ter beat­ing US vet­eran Phil Mick­el­son by three strokes at Royal Troon in Scot­land.

Bjørn, who will be next year’s Ry­der Cup cap­tain, won the NGC tro­phy in spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion four years ago af­ter sweep­ing aside com­pe­ti­tion from the likes of Ser­gio Gar­cia, Sten­son and Justin Rose to claim his 15th Euro­pean Tour ti­tle.

Oosthuizen won the 2010 Bri­tish Open at St An­drews and will be mak­ing his 13th ap­pear­ance at Sun City. He is en­joy­ing a good run on the cour­ses and is the coun­try’s high­est worl­dranked player – at num­ber 20.

“I am al­ways ex­cited to play in the Ned­bank Golf Chal­lenge and I can’t wait to tee it up again this year. Play­ing in front of a home crowd is al­ways a lot of fun. It all adds up to make this one of the most spe­cial weeks on tour,” Oosthuizen said this week.

Stone bagged the Al­fred Dun­hill Cham­pi­onship at Leop­ard Creek in Mpumalanga in De­cem­ber. Be­fore that, he lifted the South African Open tro­phy at Glen­dower Coun­try Club in Jan­uary.

The NGC field will most likely fea­ture play­ers who have taken part in the event in the past. Eng­land’s Tommy Fleet­wood, who is lead­ing the Race to Dubai’s top 10, could make his de­but at Sun City.

The Ned­bank Golf Chal­lenge (NGC) draws early in­ter­est from play­ers. With a month to go, the field is build­ing up for Africa’s ma­jor POS­SI­BLE PLAY­ERS WHEN FI­NAL FIELD IS AN­NOUNCED

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