Nedbank Golf Challenge Preview
The Nedbank Golf Challenge started life in 1981 and was one of the most illustrious invitational events in world golf. Johnny Miller won the inaugural event and pocketed $500, 000 for his troubles.
It remained a 12-man invitational until as recently as 2013, when it became a co-sanctioned event between the European Tour and Sunshine Tour.
It will be the appetizer to the season-ending DP World Championship in Dubai.
This week will have some way to go to equal the dramatic turmoil of last week’s six-man playoff in Turkey.
Though this is a long course (measuring in at 7,817 yards), I believe that accuracy will prove more decisive than length, especially with the harsh Kikuyu rough.
Louis Oosthuizen leads the markets, which makes sense after his impressive performance last time out at the WGC HSBC. He duked it out with Rory McIlroy and Xander Schauffele and has earned his place atop the markets.
Bernd Wiesberger tees it up this week and still holds a tenuous lead in the Race to Dubai standings.
Tommy Fleetwood and Henrik Stenson are perhaps the biggest draws in a line-up that slightly disappoints me. It seems as if many of the top guns are using this week to relax ahead of Dubai.
Defending champion Lee Westwood tees it up again while three-time champion Ernie Els will be the sentimental favourite.
2018: Lee Westwood (-15)
2017: Branden Grace (-11)
2016: Alex Noren (-14)
2015: Marc Leishman (-19)
2014: Danny Willett (-18)
Louis Oosthuizen 10/1
Tommy Fleetwood 12/1
Henrik Stenson 13/1
Matthew Fitzpatrick 14/1
Erik Van Rooyen 18/1
To Win (30/1)
It’s hard not to have a little go at this price for Lee Westwood.
The three-time champion and European Tour stalwart clearly loves it in Sun City.
Last year he came from some way behind to overtake Sergio Garcia, winning his first European Tour title since 2014.
Westwood led the Open Championship earlier this year but he has generally struggled to retain consistency.
He will be encouraged by his tie for 10th at last week’s ultra-competitive Turkish Airlines Open.
He enters this week at 41st in the Race to Dubai standings and will want a solid week to secure his qualification for next week.
To Win (66/1)
This is one rewarding local knowledge.
While Harding doesn’t have a storied history on this course, he does possess two top 10’s in the Sun City Challenge.
Harding had a magnificent start to the year, winning the Qatar Masters prior to a tie for 12th at the Masters.
He lost his way somewhat since then, but he seems to have rediscovered some form of late. He had a tie for 7th in Spain last month and was bang in contention last week. Harding sat in 6th at the halfway point before falling away somewhat on the weekend.
Harding is a real talent and should thrive in this challenge of ball-striking.
The Man to Beat
To Win (28/1)
Kitayama is already a two-time winner this year and is continuously underestimated in the markets.
This may seem like a slightly controversial opinion, but it seems as if the markets occasionally loathe to champion the young American golfers on the European Tour.
He will enter this event on a slight downer after throwing away a brilliant chance to win in Turkey last week.
The American will feel quite emboldened by the Kikuyu fairways that are so plentiful in California.
With three top 5 finishes in his last four events, this could be the week that he really solidifies his claim to the title of Rookie of the Year Award.
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