Charl Schwartzel heads up a trio of three South Africans inside the world’s top 50 who have been added to the Nedbank Golf Challenge to be played at Gary Player Country Club, Sun City from December 5-8.
Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion, is currently ranked 21st in the Official World Golf Rankings. The other two are 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, who is ranked 30th, and 2013 Joburg Open champion Richard Sterne who is in 48th spot on the rankings.
Schwartzel finished second in last year’s Nedbank Golf Challenge only two strokes behind Martin Kaymer after a strong final round charge.
It was his highest finish in this tournament to date and marks his steady rise in ‘Africa’s Major’, with Schwartzel finishing no worse than sixth in three of the four Nedbank Golf Challenges he’s played.
“Charl is one of the new South African faces ushering the Nedbank Golf Challenge into a new era. He and the other young South Africans are really looking to make this tournament their own, and we’re delighted that he has accepted our invitation to return and try and get that first victory at Sun City,” said Alastair Roper, the tournament director for Sun International’s Nedbank Golf Challenge.
It’s been another steady year for Schwartzel as he claimed a victory in the Nanshan China Masters on the OneAsia Tour as well as several top-10s on the European Tour and PGA Tour.
He played his way into the FedEx Cup Playoffs where he claimed a top finish of tied eighth in the BMW Championship. At the highest level of the game, Schwartzel finished no worse than tied 25th in three of the four majors, missing the cut in the PGA Championship, and was selected for Nick Price’s International Team in the Presidents Cup.
Schwartzel was in sublime form last December with his second place in the Nedbank Golf Challenge falling alongside his victories in the Thailand Golf Championship by 11 strokes and then a week later the Alfred Dunhill Championship by 12 strokes.
But the young star spoke of his desire for more major glory when he declared, “The Masters is gone. It’s been almost two years now, so let’s see if we can get some new ones. Let’s make some new memories now and talk about something new.”
Oosthuizen will make his third appearance in the Nedbank Golf Challenge and is hoping to end the year in the same way he started it – with a victory.
He started 2013 with a victory in the European Tour’s Volvo Golf Champions in Durban and climbed to a career-high fourth on the world rankings.
But in July he had to withdraw during his first round in the Open Championship with a combination of a neck, back and leg injury, forcing a lengthy recovery period.
He made his return to the game in September’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and then made his debut for the International Team in the Presidents Cup.
On his previous two appearances in the Sun City showpiece Oosthuizen has finished 12th and fourth. But he’s no stranger to the Gary Player Country Club, having won the 2007 Dimension Data Pro-Am there.
This will be Sterne’s second appearance in the $6.5-million tournament. He finished 11th on his debut in 2009, and on the back of a memorable 2008 season in which he won three European Tour events and finished top of the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit.
This year Sterne has been in incredible form despite spending 2010 and 2011 away from the game with a back injury.
In February 2013 he won his sixth European Tour title with a seven-shot triumph in the Joburg Open. He has also finished tied 12th in the WGC-Cadillac Championship, tied ninth in the Volvo World Match Play Championship, second in the French Open, tied ninth in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and tied 13th in the European Masters.
Sterne made his debut for the International Team in the Presidents Cup this year and took world number one Tiger Woods to the final hole of their singles match before losing by one hole.