Home favourite Branden Grace will return to Sun City to defend his Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player title, joining a world-class field at the penultimate Rolex Series event on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai from November 8-11, 2018.
The World Number 36 produced a stunning closing round of 66 last year to win his eighth European Tour title, prevailing by a single shot to become the first home winner of the event since Trevor Immelman in 2007, ands join the illustrious ranks of Rolex Series winners. Now the 30 year old has his sights set on back-to-back victories at a venue where his record is equally impressive.
Grace has enjoyed three consecutive top five finishes over the past three years at Gary Player Country Club and continued his strong form of last season into the 2018 European Tour campaign, with a second-place finish on home soil at the BMW SA Open hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni, and tied fifth finish at the BMW PGA Championship in May.
“Winning last year was something I will never forget,” said Grace. “It is the one event that as a South African you always want to win. It's known locally as Africa's Major for a reason, and it is such a special place with so much history, as well as so many great winners."
“I love playing back home in South Africa, especially in Sun City in front of so many amazing fans. The atmosphere is always fantastic for us as players and for everyone who comes along during the week.
“Gary has really helped elevate this tournament and he brings so much as a host to everyone on the European Tour, and for golf in South Africa.”
Grace is joined in the field by four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy and 2017 Masters Champion Sergio Garcia, with fans now able to watch some of the best players in the world when they tee it up in South Africa by purchasing tickets here.
Tournament host Gary Player said: “I remember watching Branden walk up 18 last year on the way to his first victory. When we caught each other’s eyes, he knew my smile was just as big as his. All of South Africa was so proud of Branden. No doubt this was a milestone win his career, and he certainly has the talent to be one of the top players in the world for a long time.
“Our team is working so hard to secure one of the best golf fields of the year. And it’s very important we have all the best of South Africans here to show the world why we are one of the best golfing nations on the planet.”
Tobie Badenhorst, Head of Sponsorship and Cause Marketing at Nedbank, said: “We are thrilled to have Branden Grace join the field once again, and look forward to watch him defend his title and potentially keep the trophy on South African soil.”
Anthony Leeming, Chief Executive of Sun International added: “We are extremely pleased and excited that Branden will be back this year at Sun City to defend his title. Always a home favourite, he is sure to again bring in the crowds and provide stiff competition to the rest of the world class field that will participate in this year’s Nedbank Golf Challenge.”
An event steeped in history, the Nedbank Golf Challenge’s list of former champions features a who’s who of golfing legends including the late, great Seve Ballesteros (1983 and 1984), Ernie Els (1999, 2000 and 2002), Bernhard Langer (1985 and 1991), Colin Montgomerie (1996), and Sir Nick Faldo (1994).
More recently, Sweden’s Alex Noren, a two-time Rolex Series winner, captured his first title in South Africa in 2016, along with 2016 Masters Champion Danny Willett in 2015, European Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjørn in 2014, and Garcia in 2001 and 2003.
This year the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player is once again part of the Rolex Series – the eight premium tournaments on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, with a prize fund of US$7.5 million at the event in South Africa – and will be a pivotal tournament in helping crown the Race to Dubai Champion.
Tickets for the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player are on sale here.