A revitalized 30-man Nedbank Golf Challenge was announced on Thursday and it will form part of the Sunshine Tour's Order of Merit and the European Tour's Race to Dubai. With an increased prize fund of $6.5-million, the event will attract the very best players from the US PGA Tour as well as those from Europe, Asia, Japan and Australia.
The Nedbank Golf Challenge has entered a new era with the change in format, the increase in prize money, and the addition of official ranking points that will attract one of the strongest and deepest fields in world golf to Sun City from 5-8 December.
The most significant restructuring of “Africa’s Major” in its 32-year history will feature an increased 30-man field competing for a total purse of $6.5 million at the Gary Player Country Club – an increase of $1.5 million on the 2012 prize money. The first place cheque will remain $1.25 million, and last place will be worth $100,000.
Players will also have the added attraction that the Nedbank Golf Challenge will count towards Official World Golf Ranking points as well as Ryder Cup points, and as official money on both the European Tour Race to Dubai and the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit.
The eligibility criteria for a place in one of the most sought-after fields in world golf has been expanded to ensure the 2013 Nedbank Golf Challenge will be amongst the most globally-represented tournaments in the history of South African golf.
As per tradition, the defending champion remains exempt for the following year’s tournament. The winner of the previous season’s Sunshine Tour Order of Merit is also still guaranteed a place in the field.
The new selection criteria targets the best of the world’s leading tours, from the PGA Tour and European Tour to the Japan Golf Tour. There will also be an increase in the number of South Africans eligible for qualification in the field.
In terms of the official world money lists, the field will now be drawn from the leading 10 players within the top 30 on the final 2013 FedEx Cup standings, the leading 10 players from within the top 30 on the final 2013 Race to Dubai rankings, the winner of the 2012 Asian Tour Order of Merit, the winner of the 2012 Japan Golf Tour Order of Merit, and the winner of the 2012 PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit.
The increased number of South African players in the field will be drawn primarily from their position on the Official World Golf Ranking on Monday 18 November 2013, with a total of 5 players qualifying through either defending champion status, the previous season’s Sunshine Tour Order of Merit winner, the 2013 FedEx Cup or the 2013 Race to Dubai, and there will be further opportunities to qualify right up to the week before the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
The winner of the 2013 South African Open and Alfred Dunhill Championship, played in the two weeks leading up to the Nedbank Golf Challenge, will gain exemption into the field.
The remainder of the field, if required, will be drawn from the leading available players on the Official World Golf Ranking as of Monday 18 November 2013.
There will also be a spot for the current number one and two on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit as of Monday 25 November 2013.
“With this new structure we have one of the most exciting fields in world golf,” said Alastair Roper, Tournament Director of the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
“We have provided opportunities for the best in world golf to have their shot at qualifying for Africa’s Major. We’ll also have incredible momentum right up to the week before the Nedbank Golf Challenge, with players battling it out for a place in our field.
“I have no doubt that we have strengthened the Nedbank Golf Challenge as one of the premier tournaments in world golf and the number one event in its time slot.”
Thulani Sibeko, Group Executive; Marketing, Communications and Corporate Affairs at Nedbank, expressed the sponsor’s delight with the new vision of the tournament.
“Since 1981 the Nedbank Golf Challenge has remained at the forefront of world golf and has become an iconic event on the South African sporting calendar. Through the enhancements to Africa’s Major we continue to make world-class golf happen and bring the world’s best golfers to Sun City.”
Keith Waters, European Tour Chief Operating Officer and Director of International Policy, said: “The European Tour has long had an excellent relationship with South Africa and the Sunshine Tour, and this news will further strengthen that bond.
“The Nedbank Golf Challenge is an exciting addition to The European Tour International Schedule and to have such a lucrative purse on offer very early in the 2014 season gives a new dimension to The Race to Dubai.
“We are grateful to the support of Nedbank, Sun International and the Sunshine Tour and look forward to a fantastic tournament in December.”
Selwyn Nathan, the Executive Director of the Sunshine Tour, said the new format of the Nedbank Golf Challenge will inspire a new generation of South African golfers as an event they want to compete in.
“The increased opportunity for our players is a major asset for the Sunshine Tour in terms of inspiring our current stars and also attracting other players to our tour. The Sunshine Tour has always prided itself on the fact that it can open doors for a player to compete in some of the biggest tournaments in world golf, and the 2013 Nedbank Golf Challenge will bring about an exciting conclusion to our season.”
SuperSport will once again be the official host broadcaster of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, with the broadcast rights for Africa and the adjacent islands. European Tour Productions, in conjunction with the Sunshine Tour, will carry the broadcast to the rest of the world.
“The television production will continue to position Sun City as one of the leading resorts in the world offering an unrivalled entertainment experience, and at the same time keep reinforcing the message that South Africa is a world-class tourist destination,” said Graeme Stephens, the Chief Executive of Sun International.
“The Nedbank Golf Challenge has always been a key marketing tool to showcase what Sun International has to offer as one of the most respected resort operators in the world. As such we are excited about the new direction of the tournament and the greater global footprint it will enjoy.”
2013 NEDBANK GOLF CHALLENGE ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
(a) Defending Champion.
(b) The winner of the 2012 Sunshine Tour Official Order of Merit if not otherwise exempt above.
(c) The leading 10 available players not otherwise exempt in (a) or (b) above from within the top 30 only of the Final 2013 Fedex Cup.
(d) The leading 10 available players not otherwise exempt in (a), (b) or (c) above from within the top 30 only of the Final 2013 Race to Dubai.
(e) South African players to be selected in order of their position on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) as of Monday 18 November 2013, such that the total number of South African players qualifying through (a) to (d) combined as at the conclusion of the 2013 Race to Dubai is 5* in total.
(f) The winner of the 2012 Asian Tour Order of Merit if not otherwise exempt above.
(g) The winner of the 2012 Japan Golf Tour Order of Merit if not otherwise exempt above.
(h) The winner of the 2012 PGA Tour of Australasia’s Order of Merit if not otherwise exempt above.
(i) The winner of the 2013 South African Open if not otherwise exempt above (A blank entry will be filed for this winner).
(j) The winner of the 2013 Alfred Dunhill Championship if not otherwise exempt above (A blank entry will be filed for this winner).
(k) The balance of the field will be completed as follows:
(i) The player ranked number one on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit as of Monday 25 November 2013, if not otherwise exempt above.
(ii) The player ranked second on the 2013 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit as of Monday 25 November 2013, if not otherwise exempt above.
(iii) Players selected in ranking order from the OWGR as of Monday 18 November 2013.
* After close of entries, should a player in Categories (c) or (d) withdraw, they will be replaced by the next eligible player from within their category, up until 18h00 (local time in Sun City) on Sunday 1 December. Thereafter a withdrawal from these categories will be replaced by the next eligible player from category (k) above. A withdrawal from any other category after close of entries will be replaced by the next eligible player from category (k) above.