Alex Noren defends Nedbank Golf Challenge

A strong field is set for the penultimate event of the European Tour season

Alex Noren defends Nedbank Golf Challenge
Alex Noren defends Nedbank Golf Challenge
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It’s the penultimate event of the European Tour’s 2017 Race to Dubai this week. Tommy Fleetwood heads the standings going into the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa while Alex Noren is defending tournament champion.

Tommy Fleetwood heads into the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player leading the Race to Dubai standings. The Englishman has a great chance to extend his advantage at the top of the pile in this lucrative event, as his nearest challengers for the season-long title, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm are not on the start list in Sun City.

The absence of those players also offers an opportunity for those a little further down the standings to make a move up as they think of the season-ending DP World Tour Championship and the bonus pool that will be divided among the leading 10 players on the standings after that event.

Tyrrell Hatton is currently fifth and the likes of Ross Fisher, Rafa Cabrera Bello and defending Nedbank champion Alex Noren will be aiming for a good result this week to improve their chances of securing a larger share of that bonus pool.

First played in 1981, the Nedbank Challenge can boast an incredible roll call of champions. Johnny Miller won the inaugural event and Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Nick Faldo, Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia, Retief Goosen, Martin Kaymer and Danny Willett have all been winners. Last season, Alex Noren won by six shots after a tremendous final round of 63.

This tournament provides a great opportunity for players to make a move up the Race to Dubai standings and give themselves a chance to, either be in line to share the bonus pool (divided between the top-10) or simply to play in the season ending DP World Tour Championship next week in Dubai, (the top-60 on the standings after this event will be eligible for Dubai.)

Gregory Bourdy is currently in 60th spot but the likes of Ian Poulter and Paul Waring are just behind and will be hoping for a good performance in South Africa to push on and earn a place in the DP World Tour Championship.

Ian Poulter swing analysis:

The course at the Gary Player Country Club opened for play back in 1979. It’s a long and challenging track offering spectacular views of the Pilanesberg Mountains.

The weather forecast for Sun City is a little mixed right now. It has been tremendously hot but there could be some rain around on the Thursday and Friday.

Venue: Gary Player CC, Sun City, South Africa Date: Nov 9-12 Course stats: par 72, 7,831 yards Purse: $7,500,000 Defending champion: Alex Noren (-14)

TV Coverage: Thursday 9 – Sky Sports Golf from 7am Friday 10 – Sky Sports Golf from 7am Saturday 11 – Sky Sports Golf from 8am Sunday 12 – Sky Sports Golf from 8am

Player Watch: Nicolas Colsaerts – He was runner-up last week in Turkey and he produced some superb golf, particularly over the first two days. He has the power game that will help him around this monster-long course at Sun City and, if his putting behaves, he will surely be a contender.

Thorbjorn Olesen – Fifth last week in the Turkish Airlines Open, Olesen looks to be nearing his best form. If he can find that top gear, he’ll be right there in this event.

Eddie Pepperell – The Englishman has been on a great run since the Czech Masters back in September. In his last eight starts on the European Tour he has returned seven top-10s, including a tie for sixth last week.

Key hole: 17th. At 478 yards, this is a highly daunting par 4. Water guards the entire left side, threatening for both drive and approach. The right side is guarded by sand from the tee and a sprawling bunker short, right of the green. It requires two long, accurate shots and a big number is always possible here. Walk off with a par and breathe a huge sigh of relief.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?