Sergio Garcia is set to return to the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player for the first time since 2013 - the penultimate Rolex Series event on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai - when he joins the field this November.
The Spaniard is a two-time winner of the prestigious tournament, with those victories in 2001 and 2003 coming prior to it becoming an officially sanctioned European Tour event, while his most recent appearance at the Gary Player Country Club five years ago yielded a runner-up finish.
The 38 year old has since become a Major Champion, following his momentous victory at the 2017 Masters Tournament - one of three European Tour titles to his name in a career-defining campaign last year.
Garcia’s last visit to Sun City was a thrilling one for the South African spectators, as he made an almighty front nine charge on the final day to move right into the mix – six birdies including four in a row before the turn took him out in 30.
His final round 65 was only matched by The 2018 Ryder Cup European Captain Thomas Bjørn, the third round leader who claimed a two-stroke victory over Garcia and Welshman Jamie Donaldson, with Garcia now looking forward to challenging once more for the famous trophy.
“I am really looking forward to returning to the Nedbank Golf Challenge later this year,” said the 14-time European Tour winner. “It’s such a huge event with a great history and some unbelievable champions on the trophy, and I am proud to be on that list as a two-time winner.
“Obviously I came close last time out in 2013 and it was disappointing to come up just short but at the same time I can only take positives from that final round.
“I love the course at Gary Player Country Club and Sun City, and I love playing in front of the knowledgeable and supportive crowds there, so I’m very excited to return.”
Tournament host Gary Player said: "I am simply delighted to announce that Sergio Garcia will be coming to play in the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa at the Gary Player Country Club.
"It’s a tournament I am so proud to be the host of, and no doubt Sergio’s presence will bring extra energy to a wonderful week of golf. We are all excited to have Sergio back at Sun City as a two-time champion of our event.
"This is always a fantastic event, sporting a world-class field with players from all over the globe. My thanks to the European Tour, Nedbank, Sun International, Rolex and all the other sponsors who make this possible."
Mike Brown, Chief Executive of Nedbank, said: “We are delighted at the inclusion of 14-time European Tour winner Sergio Garcia to this year’s Nedbank Golf Challenge not only enhance the tournament, but also to increase the excitement and anticipation amongst golf enthusiasts across the world. This announcement sets the tone for the introduction of the main field later this year, and reaffirms Nedbank’s commitment to golf in South Africa.”
Anthony Leeming, Chief Executive, Sun International added: “We are delighted to welcome back 2017 Masters champion Sergio Garcia, who is a great friend of the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player. He is a two-time winner of Africa’s Major and on both occasions beat South Africans to his titles in thrilling play-offs. He now has the opportunity to become the first European golfer to win the Nedbank Golf Challenge three times and will certainly be a crowd favourite at Sun City.”
The Nedbank Golf Challenge is an event with a rich history and the list of former champions is a who’s who of golfing legends. The late, great Seve Ballesteros is a two-time champion having won back-to-back titles in 1983 and 1984.
Ernie Els (1999, 2000 and 2002), Bernhard Langer (1985 and 1991), Colin Montgomerie (1996), Sir Nick Faldo (1994), Nick Price (1993, 1997 and 1998) and Ian Woosnam (1987) are among the many European Tour legends to have triumphed there in the past, while home favourite Branden Grace claimed the title last year in the tournament’s inauguration year as a Rolex Series event.