By: Nazli Hamilton | 09 Nov | 08:28
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The Nedbank Golf Challenge – affectionately known as Africa’s Major – was first held at Sun City in 1981 when Johnny Miller bagged $500 000 for his 11-under par victory.
Back then the tournament didn’t enjoy official status and was held at the end of the PGA and European Tour seasons to allow the best players in the world to accept invitations to join the elite field of 12 during the South African summer.
Three things attracted big international stars to South Africa – exclusivity, the big prize money and the sunny weather. The tournament, however, has evolved over many years. There were the ‘Million Dollar’ days when the tournament boasted the biggest winners’ cheque in the world, and when other tournaments caught up the prize was upped to $2 million.
In 2013 the field was expanded to 30 players as the tournament joined the Sunshine Tour and European Tour calendars. This year, though, the tournament has been added to the European Tour Play-offs (The Race to Dubai) series of three tournaments – Turkish Airlines Open (won by Thorbjorn Oleson), Nedbank Golf Challenge and the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
The field has been expanded to 72 and will consist mostly of the top 64 available players from the current year Race to Dubai standings. The remainder of the field will consist of the defending champion, previous winners of the Sunshine Tour order of merit as well as tournament invitations.
Australia’s Marc Leishman is the defending champion after he defeated Henrik Stenson by six strokes for a 19-under par victory last year.
The tournament was last won by a South African in 2007 when Trevor Immelman lifted the coveted trophy. There are nine South Africans in the field this year: Thomas Aiken, George Coetzee, Retief Goosen, Brandon Grace, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Richard Sterne, Brandon Steone and Jaco van Zyl.
72 players from 22 different countries
56 European Tour winners
12 Ryder Cup players
61 per cent of the field will be making their tournament debut
23 winners this season
42 of the top 50 in The Race to Dubai
4 former European Number Ones
Henrik Stenson (2013)
Martin Kaymer (2010)
Padraig Harrington (2006)
Retief Goosen (2001, 2002)
All 5 multiple winners this season
4 former winners of the Nedbank Golf Challenge
Retief Goosen (2004)
Henrik Stenson (2008)
Martin Kaymer (2012)
Danny Willett (2014)
7 Major winners with 11 titles between them
Padraig Harrington (3)
Martin Kaymer, Retief Goosen (2 each)
Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Henrik Stenson, Danny Willett (1 each)
1 former World Number One