Four-time Major champion and South African golf legend Ernie Els has added his name to the impressive field being assembled for the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player.
The seventh Rolex Series event on the 2019 Race to Dubai. from 14-17 November 2019, a few weeks before Els will captain the Internationals in Melbourne at the Presidents Cup.
The Big Easy joins fellow South African Major winner Louis Oosthuizen and another countryman in Branden Grace, who claimed his first Rolex Series title at the Nedbank Golf Challenge two years ago, in the select field.
‘It’s always a pleasure to play in South Africa and particularly at the Nedbank Golf Challenge. I’ve got some great memories of the tournament – particularly from my three wins – and I’m pleased that I’ve been able to support the event as it has continued to grow over the years,’ said Els.
Els has enjoyed great success at the Gary Player Country Club, claiming the title three times – in 1999, 2000 and 2002. He became the third three-time winner of the prestigious event – after David Frost and Nick Price – while Lee Westwood became the fourth player to join that prestigious list last year by wrapping up a hat-trick of victories for his maiden Rolex Series triumph.
‘I’m looking forward to a busy end of the year with the Presidents Cup coming up in December. I’m pleased that I can include some competitive golf on home soil in that schedule, and I’m sure it will be a memorable week, especially with the 40th anniversary celebrations.’ said Els.
Els’ most recent Nedbank Golf Challenge victory came just a few months after he triumphed in The Open for the first time, adding to the two U.S. Open titles he had claimed in 1994 and 1997.
The former World Number One famously went on to lift the Claret Jug a second time in 2012, making it 71 career victories worldwide, including two World Golf Championships and a record seven World Matchplay titles.
Host Gary Player was delighted by the addition to the penultimate event on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.
‘I am thrilled that golf fans will once again be treated to seeing one of the finest golfers in history competing at the Gary Player Country Club for this Rolex Series event. Ernie’s success in the Nedbank Golf Challenge is perhaps outshone only by his constant and loyal support of this tournament over the years, which has been invaluable. I look forward to shaking the big man’s hand on the first tee once again,’ said Player.
The field also includes European Ryder Cup Captain Padraig Harrington and English Ryder Cup stars Tommy Fleetwood and Lee Westwood, who returns to defend his Nedbank Golf Challenge title.
Westwood’s emotional three-stroke victory over Sergio Garcia in 2018 saw him capture his first Rolex Series title and become the first European golfer to win the Nedbank Golf Challenge three times, following his victories in 2010 and 2011.
The Nedbank Golf Challenge will enhance its status as one of world golf’s elite tournaments this season with an increase in both the first place prize money and Race to Dubai points – the winner of the 2019 Nedbank Golf Challenge will take home US$2.5 million, an increase on the US$1.25 million won by Westwood last year.
The overall prize fund remains at $7.5-million, with the balance of the 63-player field from second place onwards playing for a $5m prize fund.
This year’s tournament also offers an increased haul of Race to Dubai points from 7,500 to 10,000, which places it above what the World Golf Championships tournaments offer.
*General access tickets and luxury return shuttles for the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player can be purchased here.
**If you are looking for an experience, Circa has once again put together hospitality packages for the event, which can be purchased here.
Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images
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