Louis is ex­cited to tee it up at NGC

The Mercury - - SPORT - Jac­ques van der Westhuyzen

IN FOUR weeks the Ned­bank Golf Chal­lenge will get un­der way at Sun City. It will be day two to­day of the tour­na­ment, which is now one of eight elite tour­na­ments with a min­i­mum prize fund of $7mil­lion form­ing part of the Euro­pean Tour’s new Rolex Se­ries, be­ing played at the Gary Player Coun­try Club.

Un­til the first tee off time on 9 Novem­ber the course will be closed to the public, al­low­ing the staff at the club to get the par-72 lay­out and one of the best cour­ses in South Africa, in prime con­di­tion for “Africa’s ma­jor”. The last rounds were played there on Wed­nes­day and yes­ter­day.

Among the play­ers chas­ing the glory on 12 Novem­ber will be de­fend­ing cham­pion Alex Noren, 2008 cham­pion Hen­rik Sten­son, 2013 win­ner Thomas Bjorn and con­firmed South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Bran­don Stone. The 23-year-old Stone qual­i­fied after win­ning the South African Tour Or­der of Merit, the sec­ond youngest man to do so after Charl Schwartzel. This will be his sec­ond ap­pear­ance at Sun City after de­but­ing last year.

“Ce­ment­ing my spot in the tour­na­ment is an in­cred­i­ble achieve­ment,” he said.

“It’s nice to rep­re­sent your coun­try abroad, but it’s even bet­ter rep­re­sent­ing your coun­try at home. As a South African player the sup­port you get there is al­ways great.”

Oosthuizen, with 13 ti­tles world­wide, will make his sev­enth ap­pear­ance at the tour­na­ment and is hop­ing to im­prove on his best fin­ish of fourth in 2012.

“I’m al­ways very ex­cited to tee it up at the Ned­bank Golf Chal­lenge and I can’t wait to tee it up again this year,” Oosthuizen, said. “Play­ing in front of a home crowd is al­ways fun and it all adds up to make this one of the best weeks on tour.”

Noren, who has been in sub­lime form over the last two years, reg­is­ter­ing wins at the BMW PGA Cham­pi­onship, Scot­tish Open, Euro­pean Mas­ters and Bri­tish Mas­ters said: “Lift­ing the tro­phy in South Africa last year was the per­fect end to a mem­o­rable sea­son. I had tried to get into the event for many years so to win on my first ap­pear­ance was pretty spe­cial.

“I’m really look­ing for­ward to re­turn­ing as de­fend­ing cham­pion. It’s a fan­tas­tic event, which ob­vi­ously holds many great mem­o­ries for me.”

Other Race to Dubai top 10 play­ers who could tee it up at Sun City in a few weeks’ time are Tommy Fleet­wood, Ser­gio Gar­cia, Rafa Cabr­era Bello, Ross Fisher and Francesco Moli­nari.

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PIC­TURE: EPA

Ben Stokes.

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