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2022 Nedbank Golf Challenge Preview, Picks & Analysis

By: | Mon 07 Nov 2022 | Comments

TOMMY FLEETWOOD’S last DP World Tour victory came at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in 2019 - it is also the last time the tournament was played, due to the global Covid pandemic.

The event, which is widely regarded as South Africa’s major, makes a welcome return to the calendar, boasting a tremendously strong field. It is also the penultimate event of the 2021-22 schedule, with the curtain coming down at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai next week.

Fleetwood is desperate for a win and played well at the recent CJ Cup, where he finished joint fourth as Rory McIlroy won and returned to the top of the world rankings.

Tommy Fleetwood

The Englishman is part of a top-class field that also includes recent DP World Tour winners Ryan Fox, Robert MacIntyre and Guido Migliozzi at Sun City.

New Zealander Fox is currently second behind McIlroy in the DP World Tour Rankings thanks to an impressive season that has included wins at the Ras al Khaimah Classic and Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at the Old Course, St Andrews, as well as seven further top 10s.

The three-time DP World Tour winner will tee it up at Gary Player Country Club for the fourth time as he aims to become the first player from New Zealand to be named European Number One. And he needs a good week to close the gap on the Northern Irishman.

Fox said: “This is a tournament that I’ve always enjoyed going to, and it’s great to see it back on the schedule. It’s been a positive season for me so far, and I’m looking forward to the last few events, including a trip back to Sun City for the 40th anniversary event.”

MacIntyre will make his second appearance after a top-10 finish in 2019. The Scot started the qualification process for the 2023 Ryder Cup by winning the Italian Open at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club – the venue where Europe will take on the United States next September.

The 26-year-old won his second DP World Tour title at the perfect time as he aims to fulfil his dream of a Ryder Cup debut in Rome.

MacIntyre said: “I had a great experience on my debut at the Nedbank Golf Challenge and I can’t believe that it was three years ago now. There’s a lot to play for over the last few events of the season in terms of the DP World Tour Rankings and Ryder Cup qualification, and I’m looking forward to another good week at Sun City.”

Migliozzi’s third DP World Tour win came at the French Open at Le Golf National – scene of Europe’s 17.5 – 10.5 victory over the United States in 2018.

He also made his debut in the Nedbank Golf Challenge in 2019, when he won both the Belgian Knockout and Magical Kenya Open and returns to a field that also includes European Ryder Cup Captain Luke Donald, as another impressive year draws to a close.

Migliozzi said: “I’ve only had the chance to play there once, but the Nedbank Golf Challenge is a great week on Tour and I’m glad to see it back on the schedule. It’s the second last event of the season with a lot of points on offer so we’ll be aiming for a big finish.”

There will also be a strong home presence in the 64-main field, led by DP World Tour winners Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Thriston Lawrence.

Bezuidenhout could be the best chance of a home victory. He spent most of 2022 playing on the PGA Tour, where he made 20 of 24 cuts and finished 51st in the FedEx Cup standings and represented The Internationals in the Presidents Cup. He also came close to a breakthrough victory when he finished in a tie for second place in the John Deere Classic.

He is also a previous winner here. He said: “To have won at the Gary Player Country Club is an ambition of any South African professional because it is such a great test of golf, and for me to have done so in the South African Open made it that much more special. I love the golf course and the whole atmosphere.”

Will Zalatoris is also making the trip. He is in fifth place in the season-long rankings, largely as a result of finishing second at the US PGA, tied second at the US Open and tied sixth at The Masters. He is a big-time player and would not be travelling to South Africa unless he thought he had a decent chance of winning.

The Nedbank has been a highlight of the South African sporting calendar since 1981, with former winners including Seve Ballesteros, Ernie Els, Bernhard Langer, Ian Woosnam, Nick Faldo, Trevor Immelman and Danny Willett.

The tournament is the penultimate event this season, with a $6m purse and 7,000 ranking points on offer. The last edition in 2019 saw record attendance figures. It is a restricted field event with the top 64 in the DP World Tour order of merit all eligible to take part, along with eight tournament invitees.

The Course

The Gary Player Country Club can be stretched to more than 7,800 yards. It opened in 1979 and has hosted the NedBank Callenge since the tournament’s inception in 1981. It features many clover-shaped greens protected by well-placed bunkers. It is a spectacular golf course, with the Pilanesberg Mountains as a backdrop.

Tournaments Winners

It was won in 2015 by Marc Leishman, in 2016 by Alex Noren, in 2017 by Branden Grace, in 2018 by Lee Westwood and in 2019 by Tommy Fleetwood. It wasn’t played in 2020 and 2021 because of the Covid pandemic

Form Guide

Christiaan Bezuidenhout enjoyed a fine season on the PGA Tour. He is a wonderful ball striker who enjoyed 10 top-25 finishes in 2021-22 and comfortably made the cut in his first four starts of the new season. Robert MacIntyre has turned his year around in spectacular fashion, winning the Italian Open and enjoying top-10 finishes at the French Open and Andalucia Masters.

To win:

Christiaan Bezuidenhout. Hugely underrated and big hitter who finds a lot of fairways.

Each way:

Tommy Fleetwood. Finding his best form once more and it’s been too long since his last victory.

Each way:

Robert MacIntyre. Has turned things around and is a world-class putter.

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What do you think? leave your comments below (Comments)

Tags: european tour dp world tour


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