The Nedbank Golf Challenge has entered its final phase of preparation for this year’s tournament and with the focus now on fine-tuning the famed Gary Player Country Club course ahead of the November 9-12 DP World Tour tournament at Sun City.
Sunday saw the playing of the traditional Final Round for sponsors and media, which signals the closing of the golf course until tournament week.
“The Final Round is one of our longstanding traditions with our sponsors and invited media. It’s an opportunity for them to play the golf course before we officially close it to the public ahead of the tournament,” said Tournament Director, Ken Payet.
The famed Gary Player Country Club course will now be allowed to reach its peak condition for this year’s tournament as it prepares to welcome a 66-man DP World Tour field that already includes defending champion Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Justin Thomas, Max Homa and Ockie Strydom.
“The next three weeks is an important period of time for us to give the golf course a rest and also for our course staff to focus on the manicuring and attention to detail. This is the time when we fine tune the golf course from a player’s perspective. We have a very high expectation of the standard we want this course to be at for tournament week,” said Payet.
“At the moment the golf course is looking very good. It’s now all about the golf course peaking for that week of the Nedbank Golf Challenge. The stars need to align in terms of the weather and just the right amount of rain. It’s about hitting that sweet spot with Mother Nature.”
Payet has already identified what he believes will be the key holes at this year’s tournament.
“There are a few holes on this golf course where you can win or lose the tournament. Last year Tommy Fleetwood took excellent advantage of the par fives. The par-four eighth hole is always critical for me because it’s such a tough hole and traditionally plays as one of the toughest. You can make a birdie or a tiple bogey there. The par-five ninth hole is another important hole. We try and set it up that the professionals can go for the green in two and make eagle there. The par-five 10th is also pivotal as a hole where you can make birdies and eagles. The par-five 14th is a phenomenal hole with the green guarded by bunkers. And then the par-four 18th is a hole where over the past few years we’ve tried to have an accessible final round pin placement. When you’re chasing a leader it is difficult to make a birdie on the last with a back right pin, so we’ve tried to make the pin placement more accessible. Those are holes that can make a difference and where it can go either way for a player.”
With three weeks until the start of this year’s Nedbank Golf Challenge, Payet says the interest in this year’s tournament has been incredible.
“We’re very excited about this year’s field. It’s been eight months of negotiations with the best players in the world. Our player committee team has done phenomenally well, and Gary Player in particular has provided immense assistance in helping us secure some of the world’s best players at Sun City. The interest from the public has already been incredible.”