SUN CITY – There will be a plethora of stars teeing it up in Sun City in the event dubbed ‘Africa’s Major’, including five Major Champions, who share 11 titles between them.
Ernie Els, twice a winner of the US Open Championship and The Open, will no doubt attract the crowds when he joins eight of his compatriots on home soil, including The 139th Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen.
Fellow Open winner Henrik Stenson of Sweden returns to Gary Player Country Club for the first time in three years, joining two-time Major star Martin Kaymer of Germany and Europe’s 2020 Ryder Cup Captain and three-time Major Champion Padraig Harrington of Ireland.
After 45 events on the 2019 Race to Dubai, only two remain, with the battle for European Tour Number One still raging as the Tour returns to South Africa.
Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger currently leads the Race to Dubai Rankings, aiming to become the first Austrian to be crowned European Tour Number One. However, there is an array of players hot on his heels who will also be teeing it up this week, including four of the top ten on the Race to Dubai. England’s Matt Fitzpatrick is Wiesberger’s closest rival in the field, occupying fourth in the season-long Rankings.
England’s Lee Westwood returned to the winner’s circle for the first time since 2014 when he won his first Rolex Series event at the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player last year.
His previous victory came at the 2014 Maybank Malaysian Open and he held back the tears in Sun City to lift the trophy aloft after rounds of 71-69-69 and a stunning final round of 64, eight-under par.
A year on, the former world number one will defend his title as he looks to become a two-time Rolex Series winner.
Designed by the career Grand Slam winner and bearing his name, the Gary Player Country Club is one of the most breath-taking courses in South Africa.
The course opened in 1979 and is surrounded by Pilanesberg National Park, where sightings of the big five – lions, Cape buffaloes, elephants, leopards and rhinos – are common along with a host of other wildlife.
At 7160 metres, it is one of the longest courses on the 2019 Race to Dubai circuit and players can expect a tough test when the action starts on Thursday.
African News Agency (ANA)