US Open champ Rose heading for Sun City

US Open champion Justin Rose will make his fifth appearance in the Nedbank Golf Challenge in what has been an incredibly successful season for the South African-born professional.


Rose is the latest to confirm his place in the 30-man field at the Gary Player Country Club from 5-8 December for the $6.5 million tournament.


The English professional broke through with his first Major victory in a year in which he rose to a career-high third on the official world golf ranking.


Rose became the first English professional in 43 years to win the US Open when he beat Phil Mickelson and Jason Day by two shots at Merion, and the first English winner of a Major since Nick Faldo won the 1996 Masters.


It was an emotional triumph for the man who first stunned the golf world when as a 17-year-old amateur he holed a 50-metre chip from the 18th fairway at Royal Birkdale during the 1998 Open Championship, and then struggled through 21 consecutive missed cuts at the start of his professional career.


Rose’s affinity for South Africa stretches beyond just his family ties to this country. It was in Johannesburg that Rose won his first professional title in the 2002 Dunhill Championship at Houghton Golf Club. That same year he won the Nashua Masters at the Wild Coast Sun.


But “Africa’s Major” has to date eluded him. Rose came closest to a victory in the Nedbank Golf Challenge when he was beaten by a single shot by Trevor Immelman in 2007.


“We are delighted to welcome Justin back amidst what has been an outstanding year for him. With his South African roots Justin is always a favourite at Sun City. He represents a new generation of professionals making their mark in the Majors and it’s a great coup for us to have the reigning US Open champion in our field,” said Alastair Roper, the Tournament Director for Sun International’s Nedbank Golf Challenge.


“I’m thrilled to be returning to the Nedbank Golf Challenge,” added Rose. “I have so many great memories of South Africa and so many friends there.”


Rose heads back to Sun City during what has been a golden period for English golfers in the Nedbank Golf Challenge. Lee Westwood’s two victories in 2010 and 2011 mean Rose is seeking a third English victory at Sun City in four years.


Also confirmed in the field are US stars Gary Woodland (left) and Kevin Streelman (below).


Woodland, one of the biggest hitters on the PGA Tour, will make his debut in the tournament at the end of a season in which he won the Reno-Tahoe Open on the PGA Tour and finished tied second in The Barclays during the FedEx Cup Playoffs. “Gary is one of the most exciting young players on the PGA Tour. He hits the ball an incredible distance and he’s going to be a big favourite with the fans,” said Roper.


The expanded eligibility criteria to allow for 10 players within the top 30 on the final 2013 FedEx Cup standings has deepened the American representation in the tournament, and Streelman heads to Sun City on the back of a season in which he claimed his maiden victory on the PGA Tour in the Tampa Bay Classic.


His season has also included a tied second in The Players Championship, tied third in the RBC Heritage, tied sixth in the Wells Fargo Championship, and tied 10th in the Humana Challenge to finish 13th on the FedEx Cup standings. And it follows a 2012 season in which he had three top 10s on the PGA Tour.


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