Gar­cia among big guns at Sun City

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - GRANT WIN­TER

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”.

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