NEDBANK GOLF CHALLENGE
What a finish to the European Tour season we are having. After a six-man play-off under the floodlights at the Turkish Airlines Open, Englishman Tyrrell Hatton claimed his fourth European Tour title. Hatton jumped no less that 30 places up the Race to Dubai standings and now is in great position to contend for the crown of Europe’s number one golfer.
It is the penultimate event on the European Tour and this week it returns to South Africa, for ‘Africa’s Major” at The Gary Player Country Club, Sun City. Last year saw Lee Westwood end his four-year winless streak as he shot a superb final round 64 in tricky conditions. The wind was gusting and swirling, but Westwood had total control of his golf ball and held off a strong chasing pack of world class golfers. This was Westwood’s third win at this championship and meant he joined illustrious company; Ernie Els, Nick Price and David Frost as three-time winners of “Africa’s Major”.
With an Augusta like setup, i.e. lightning quick greens, small landing areas and juicy rough, this tournament tends to be won by an elite ball striker. As highlighted by previous winners, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood.
With that in mind Tommy Fleetwood, another world class ball striker, will be keen to win his first tournament of the year. Fleetwood is currently ranked 10th on the R2D and 18th in the World but has had a fairly unremarkable season so far by his own high standards, a win here would certainly boost his spirits when he reflects on his 2019 season. He is paired with fellow Englishman Matt Wallace and one of the home favourites Erik Van Rooyen.
The players will have to battle not only the quality course in Sun City, which measures a little under 8,000 yards and has amazing backdrops on Pilanesberg mountains. But they should also be wary of the wildlife that wander in from the neighbouring Pilanesberg National Park, as Luke Donald will tell you, after his encounter with a Baboon a couple of seasons ago.
TIPS FOR THE WEEK
FROM TEAM TG
Louis Oosthuizen: Has never won this event but has also never finished lower than 14th. His most recent tournament was the WGC-HSBC Champions where he finished in third.
Kurt Kitayama: Was another that was part of the six-man playoff in Turkey, so clearly he is in great form. Kitayama is aiming to become the only American since Tiger Woods to win three times in a season on the European Tour and impressively he is doing all this in his Rookie season.
Robert Macintyre: Another vying to be Rookie of the Year but has yet to win on Tour. He has climbed to 13th in the R2D by consistent high finishes throughout the season, a win in the last two events would surely boost his chances of winning the Rookie of the Year trophy.
Tommy Fleetwood: As previously mentioned this tournament favours a good ball striker, if Fleetwood produces somewhere near his best golf and manages his way around the tricky layout, he has a good chance of winning his fifth European Tour title.