The American duo of Max Homa and Justin Thomas have already had their first experience of South African hospitality and the wildlife, and on Thursday they will tee it up in their first Nedbank Golf Challenge feeling equally excited about what’s to come over the next four days at Sun City.
Homa and Thomas are part of a stellar 66-man field gathered at the Gary Player Country Club for this year’s edition of ‘Africa’s Major’, and the two PGA Tour stars say they have been blown away by their experience of South Africa thus far.
“There has been a lot of kindness and a lot of smiles. People are saying thank you for coming to South Africa. I never thought that would be a common sentiment. Everyone is super excited for the golf tournament and it’s fun to be a part of that,” said Homa.
“When I was growing up, I watched this tournament and tons of DP World Tour events that I always wanted to play in. With the previous PGA Tour schedule it would be wild to try and do this. But now with a real off-season for us, I made it a point to play at least one over here. To be able to get a spot here and play has been a dream. You want to experience what golf at large has to offer and this has been a pretty special week so far.”
It’s a sentiment shared by Thomas.
“It’s been spectacular. I know what I’ve seen on TV (about South Africa), but you don’t know what to expect until you get here. It’s been great. We had an unbelievable little holiday prior to this week and everybody treated us so well. It’s a shame it’s so far away because my wife and I said we’d love to come here again. Everybody has treated us better than we deserve, I feel.
“It’s one thing running into fans in the States because there’s an opportunity they could see you again. But in South Africa, this is a chance that a lot of fans get to see Max Homa for the first time ever. I’m enjoying it. If we can come here and inspire people that’s a successful trip, and we’re fortunate to play in a great tournament on a great golf course while we’re doing it.”
The two golfers also enjoyed a memorable bush experience that they’re also struggling to put into words.
“The safari is life changing. I don’t know how I’m supposed to explain this to my friends and family. I would never do it justice,” said Homa.
“The safari is so hard to explain to people who haven’t done it. It’s just wild and you have even more respect for those animals,” added Thomas.
And Homa in particular is determined to reward the South African fans with his golf at Sun City this week.
“To win here would be amazing. You come do something new, and this is ‘Africa’s Major’. It’s a big deal to the players and to this entire country. You want to come over here and perform and put on a show, so getting a win here would be tremendous.”