By Michael Vlismas
The European Tour has announced a new date for the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player as part of its revised 2020 schedule.
‘Africa’s Major’ is one of four rescheduled Rolex Series events and is now scheduled for December 3-6 at the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City. It will remain the penultimate tournament of the European Tour season and will be followed by the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, which will now take place from December 10-13 at Jumeirah Golf Estates, where the 2020 Race to Dubai Champion will be crowned.
Tournament host Gary Player was amongst the first to express his delight about the new date for the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
“I am so excited that a date has been set for the Nedbank Golf Challenge,” said Player. “It’s one of South Africa’s favourite sporting events. I’m sure the public will be as elated as I am. The tournament does so much good for tourism and advertising our beautiful country. I’m eternally grateful for the European Tour and all our sponsors involved.”
Mike Brown, Chief Executive Nedbank Group, said: “Despite the unprecedented challenges that we are currently facing in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic, we trust the 40th anniversary of the Nedbank Golf Challenge – now back in its early December timeslot – will give millions of South Africans and sports fans around the world something very special to look forward to. Our brand has become synonymous with ‘Africa’s Major’, a showcase of our country to the world and a household name in the world of golf having played host to the world’s leading golfers. As Nelson Mandela reminded us – Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.”
Anthony Leeming, Chief Executive Sun International, said: “This has been an unprecedented time for all of us in golf, and we’re grateful to the European Tour, Nedbank and all of our partners in working together to ensure that we can still present the 2020 Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player. The Nedbank Golf Challenge is a week in South African sport that brings tremendous joy to so many people and we look forward to continuing this in such trying times for everybody. As a showcase event for us as a resort and one that we take immense pride and pleasure in, we look forward to hosting another edition of ‘Africa’s Major’ in a safe and responsible manner and in ongoing consultation with the South African government and relevant health departments.”
The Nedbank Golf Challenge will also form part of the European Tour’s new ‘Golf for Good’ initiative, which will include all European Tour tournaments from July until December. ‘Golf for Good’ aims to give back in four key areas:
▪ Helping the communities in which the European Tour plays
▪ Rewarding the true heroes, such as frontline key workers
▪ Raising funds for specific causes
▪ Highlighting once again the many health benefits that golf offers
In South Africa, these ‘Golf for Good’ contributions will be directed towards the local charities and Corporate Social Investment initiatives supported by the Nedbank Golf Challenge and Sun International. More details will be announced.
Following the suspension of the season on March 8, the European Tour will return to action behind closed doors in July with a new UK Swing involving six tournaments being played in July and August
Two further Rolex Series events have also been rescheduled, with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club moving to October 8-11 and the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club now taking place the following week, October 15-18.
Details of subsequent tournaments on the European Tour from September through to November will be announced in due course, with a variety of scheduling options currently under consideration as the global situation continues to evolve.
Keith Pelley, European Tour Chief Executive, said: “Since the suspension of our 2020 season in early March, we have taken a measured approach in reassessing our schedule, informed every step of the way by our medical advisers and government guidance.
“We have consistently said that safety is our absolute priority and that is why today we are announcing our resumption in two months’ time supported by a comprehensive health strategy which has been led by our medical team.
“Without question, we have had to think differently about the remainder of our 2020 season which is reflected in today’s announcement. As golf’s global Tour, diversity is ordinarily one of our biggest strengths, but in this instance, it has become one of our biggest challenges.
“I want to pay tribute to Rolex, BMW, Aberdeen Standard Investments, the Scottish Government, Nedbank, Sun International, the Sunshine Tour and DP World for their continued commitment to the European Tour which allowed us to move four hugely important tournaments on the European Tour into new dates later in the year.
“Not only did they show flexibility, but they also showed an understanding of the current global situation and we are truly fortunate to have them as partners of the European Tour.”
All European Tour tournaments will be subject to stringent safety and testing protocols. These are outlined in the Tour’s comprehensive Health Strategy which has been developed by Dr Andrew Murray, the European Tour’s Chief Medical Officer, in consultation with health care specialists Cignpost, who will deliver the testing procedure, and advisers in many of the 30 countries the Tour plays. It is a strategy which will be continuously reviewed and will evolve, aligned with South African Government guidance and health guidelines.
APPENDIX 1 – TOURNAMENT DETAILS
Jul 22-25 (W-S): Betfred British Masters hosted by Lee Westwood, Close House Golf Club, Newcastle upon Tyne, England
July 30- Aug 2: English Open, Marriott Forest of Arden, Birmingham, England
Aug 6-9: English Championship, Marriott Hanbury Manor, Hertfordshire, England
Aug 13-16: Celtic Classic, The Celtic Manor Resort, City of Newport, Wales
Aug 20-23: Wales Open, The Celtic Manor Resort, City of Newport, Wales
Aug 27-30: UK Championship, The Belfry, Sutton Coldfield, England
Oct 8-11: Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open, The Renaissance Club, North Berwick, Scotland
Oct 15-18: BMW PGA Championship, Wentworth Club, Virginia Water, England
Dec 3-6: Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, Gary Player CC, Sun City, South Africa
Dec 10-13: DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai, UAE