Garcia among big guns at Sun City
SERGIO Garcia, a two- time winner of the tournament, has been added to the line-up for December’s new-look $6,5-million Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City which will have a 30-man line-up instead of the usual 12 which has been the norm in past years.
The Spaniard is one of four players announced by Sun International yesterday – the others being England’s former world No 1 Luke Donald, burly, big-hitting Zimbabwean Brendon de Jonge and American DA Points, a winner on the PGA Tour this year.
Popular with the many fans who flock to the Gary Player CC each December to watch the golf, Garcia’s victory in the 2001 Nedbank Challenge was one of the most dramatic in the tournament’s 32-year history.
He closed with a brilliant final round of nine-under-par 63 to tie Ernie Els at the top of the leaderboard at 20-under 268, and then beat the Big Easy at the first hole of sudden death when he holed a chip shot for a birdie two at the par-3 16th.
Then, in 2003, he again prevailed in extra time – this time over Retief Goosen.
The 33-year-old Garcia, who has 24 worldwide wins to his name and has played in six Ryder Cups, will be making his ninth appearance in the NGC.
Donald, 35, is one of the steadiest players in the game and he carries what many believe to be a magic putter in his bag. In 2011, for instance, in the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at Kingsbarns in Scotland, his three-putt at the 16th hole was his first three-putt in 450 holes of golf. Remarkable.
Burly power hitter De Jonge, 33, who is following in the esteemed spikemarks of countrymen like Nick Price, Mark McNulty and Tony Johnstone, plies his trade on the PGA Tour in America and although he hasn’t won there yet, he was rock-solid all season in 2013 which earned him a coveted spot in the International Team for the Presidents Cup.
DA Points, like De Jonge, will be making his NGC debut. He has won twice on the PGA Tour.
Although three-time NGC winner Els has chosen to play in Tiger Woods’s own tournament in California in the same week as Sun City, the NGC lineup is still looking pretty good.
World No 4 Henrik Stenson (the hottest player on the planet in the latter half of 2013) and world No 5 Justin Rose, the US Open champion, are already in the field.
And Charl Schwartzel, 18th in the world and currently South Africa’s top golfer in the world rankings, announced on Thursday that he will be teeing it up in three events on the trot here at home – the SA Open, the Alfred Dunhill Championship and the NGC – “Africa’s Major”.