HOME-favourite Branden Grace is excited to tee it up in the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player as Sun City and Gary Player Country Club celebrate their 40th anniversary, from November 14-17.
The South African delighted the home crowds with his eighth European Tour victory two years ago, finishing one stroke ahead of Scott Jamieson.
Grace will be seeking a fourth victory on home soil this November – adding to his 2012 Joburg Open and 2015 Alfred Dunhill Championship victories when Sun City stages the seventh Rolex Series event on the 2019 Race to Dubai.
Set to tee it up in Africa’s Major for the sixth time, Grace can’t wait to return home to play golf for the final time in the 2019 season.
“Sun City and Gary Player Country Club is such an iconic venue for South African golfers,” said Grace, who became the first native golfer to win the Nedbank Golf Challenge since Trevor Immelman 10 years earlier.
“This is an event steeped in history, and to win two years ago was very special.
“I have a lot of happy memories from playing there – it’s a demanding, but fair test.
“The work the team did in constructing and maintaining the golf course all those years ago is astonishing, and it is certainly one of the best courses we play all year.
“I can’t wait to play in front of a home crowd again and I’m hoping for another good week as we celebrate the venue’s 40th anniversary.”
Tournament host Gary Player said: “It’s wonderful to have Branden back at Sun City. Who can forget his 50-foot putt on the 16th hole in the final round in 2017 which was in my opinion his finest moment of that final round.
“It gave him a one-stroke lead and he carried it on to his first Rolex Series victory. There was immense pressure to end a decade-long drought of South African winners and Branden responded like a true champion.”
Nedbank Group chief executive Mike Brown said: “Former champions are an integral part of the history of the Nedbank Golf Challenge and they add tremendously to the quality of the field.
“We’re delighted to have Branden back with us as our last South African winner of ‘Africa’s Major’.”
Sun International chief executive Anthony Leeming said: “To have our last two champions competing again this year – Nottinghamshire’s Lee Westwood and Branden Grace – is another wonderful endorsement of the quality of our field.
“Branden’s victory in 2017 was the first by a South African since Trevor Immelman in 2007.
“In what is such a significant year for Sun City and the Gary Player Country Club and our 40th celebrations, we’re delighted to have the last South African winner in our field again.”
Grace joins compatriot and Major winner Louis Oosthuizen in a field which also includes Europe’s 2020 Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington and Ryder Cup stars Tommy Fleetwood and Lee Westwood – the latter returns to defend his first Rolex Series title.
Westwood’s three-stroke victory over Sergio Garcia last year saw him become the first European golfer to win the Nedbank Golf Challenge three times, following his victories in 2010 and 2011.
The Nedbank Golf Challenge will enhance its status as one of world golf’s elite tournaments this season with an increase in both the first place prize money and Race to Dubai points.
The winner of the 2019 Nedbank Golf Challenge will take home $2.5million, a big increase on the $1.25million won by Westwood last year.
The overall prize fund remains at $7.5million, with the balance of the 63-player field from second place onwards playing for a $5million prize fund.
This year’s tournament also offers an increased haul of Race to Dubai points from 7,500 to 10,000, which places it above what the World Golf Championships tournaments offer.
•General access tickets and luxury return shuttles for the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player can be bought by clicking here.
If you are looking for an unforgettable experience, Circa has once again put together hospitality packages for the event, which can be purchased by clikcing here.