Sergio Garcia will seek to become the first foreigner to win three Nedbank Golf Challenge titles when he tees it up in the $6.5-million at the Gary Player Country Club from 5-8 December.
The Spaniard is the latest to confirm his place in the expanded 30-man field at the end of an extremely consistent season for him in which his tied eighth at the Masters marked his 18th top-10 finish in a Major, and where he has claimed five top-10s on the European Tour and four top-10s on the PGA Tour, including tied eighth in the Players Championship.
Garcia won the Nedbank Golf Challenge in 2001 and 2003, beating Ernie Els and Retief Goosen respectively and both in playoffs. With that he joined Spanish great Seve Ballesteros, Germany’s Bernhard Langer, American Jim Furyk, and England’s Lee Westwood with two Nedbank Golf Challenge titles apiece.
The only players to have ever won three titles are the Southern African trio of Els, Nick Price and David Frost.
“Sergio has had an incredible season and he always brings such excitement to the Nedbank Golf Challenge. We’re thrilled to have him in the field this year and looking to make his own bit of history in the event,” said Alastair Roper, the Tournament Director for Sun International’s Nedbank Golf Challenge.
Garcia certainly has a special affinity for the Nedbank Golf Challenge. He enjoyed the rare honour of making his debut in this event during his rookie season as a professional in 1999, and finishing ninth. It capped an incredible start to his professional career in which he won twice on the European Tour in 1999 and famously duelled with Tiger Woods for the PGA Championship that year before finishing second.
His victory in the 2001 Nedbank Golf Challenge was one of the most dramatic in the history of this event. He closed with a final round of 63 to tie Els, and then on the first playoff hole he holed his chip on the par-three 16th to win. Then in 2003 he beat another South African to the title in Retief Goosen, and also in a playoff.
“As a winner of 24 tournaments worldwide and a veteran of six Ryder Cups and now playing in his ninth Nedbank Golf Challenge, Sergio is one of the true legends of this tournament and it’s great to have him in our field as we enter a new era in our history,” said Roper.
Also announced in the 2013 Nedbank Golf Chammenge field were Luke Donald, Zimbabwean Brendon de Jonge and American DA Points.
Donald will make his sixth appearance as he seeks to end a frustrating year on a high. Donald’s best finish in the Nedbank Golf Challenge is fifth on his debut in 2005. While claiming his first top-10 in the US Open and five top-10s on the PGA Tour this year including tied ninth in the Bridgestone Invitational, Donald has been unable to match the incredible highs of his 2011 season.
But this year he missed his first cut in a European Tour event in the Malaysian Open, and he also missed the cut in the Open Championship and PGA Championship, the first time in his career he’s missed consecutive Major cuts in a single year. But Donald has been known to follow up slumps in his game with some sublime golf. He went four years without a victory before his triumph in the 2010 Madrid Masters and which then ushered in his historic 2011 season.
De Jonge has qualified for the 30-man field at the end of what has been a memorable year for the young Zimbabwean. A strong finish to the FedEx Cup combined with his trademark aggressive play saw him selected as one of Price’s captain’s picks for the International Team for the Presidents Cup. It was a resounding endorsement of a player who at one point had scored more rounds in the 60s than any other player on the PGA Tour this year and made more birdies than any other PGA Tour player since 2009.
Two-time PGA Tour winner Darren Andrew Points will join a strong American presence in this year’s field. He is the third American to confirm his place in the field after Kevin Streelman and Gary Woodland. Points claimed his second PGA Tour title in this year’s Shell Houston Open using a putter he had stolen from his mother’s golf bag. His previous victory came in the 2011 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, the same year he also claimed his best finish in a Major to date of tied 10th in the PGA Championship.