Nedbank Golf Challenge preview

30 of the world's best players will tee it up at the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City this week to contest the Nedbank Golf Challenge. Martin Kaymer is defending champion.

Martin Kaymer defends Nedbank Golf Challenge (Getty Images)

Lowdown: 30 of the world's best players will tee it up at the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City this week to contest the Nedbank Golf Challenge. Martin Kaymer is defending champion.

First contested 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 and Retief Goosen have all been winners. Last season Martin Kaymer took the title

This is the first time the Nedbank Golf Challenge has featured on the European Tour as part of the Race to Dubai and the field has been increased to 30 players. 2013 Race to Dubai Champion and a former winner of this event, Henrik Stenson will be one of them.

"This is a very special tournament and a place that I just love coming back to," said the World Number Three.

"I love the golf course - it is one of my favourites in terms of the design because it can be played as a resort course for the many people who enjoy all year round but then it allows the tournament officials the opportunity to really toughen it up for us when we arrive and make it a real test for the pros. You have to be very precise with your iron play around here and that was the real key to my victory here."

"It's an exciting time for the tournament with the changes in place and the field increasing to 30 players and now being a part of The Race to Dubai. The increase in the field brings more guys into it obviously and makes it more difficult to win given the quality of the field but I am sure all the guys are looking forward to the chance."

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 this week looks like being a touch unpredictable in Sun City so don't be surprised if there are a couple of delays to the play.

Venue: Gary Player Country Club, Sun City, South Africa Date: Dec 5-8 Course stats: par 72, 7,831 yards Purse: $6,500,000 Winner: $1,250,000 Defending Champion: Martin Kaymer (-8)

TV Coverage: Thursday 5 - Sky Sports 4 from 8am (red button) Friday 6 - Sky Sports 4 from 8am (red button) Saturday 7 - Sky Sports 4 from 10.30am (red button) Sunday 8 - Sky Sports 4 from 9am

Player Watch: The big favourites will be the likes of Henrik Stenson, Charl Schwartzel and Justin Rose. Who might spring a surprise at Sun City?

Thomas Bjorn - He's been on solid form of late and finished runner-up to Jason Day in the recent World Cup of Golf. He has the game and self-belief to beat anybody.

Ryan Moore - He travels well as proved by his victory in the CIMB Classic in Malaysia five weeks ago.

Peter Uihlein - The young American who won in Madeira this year and finished runner-up in the Dunhill Links, looks to have the game to challenge the best in the world. He's due a big breakthrough win and this could be the 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. Where next? European Tour - Hong Kong Open preview

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?