Tournament: Nedbank Golf Challenge
DP World Tour Rankings: Tournament 42 of 43 events
Venue: Gary Player Country Club, Sun City, South Africa
Prize Fund: US$6,000,000
Tommy Fleetwood is thrilled to be back in South Africa after a three year wait to defend his Nedbank Golf Challenge title.
The Englishman arrived at Gary Player Country Club in November 2019 without a win in nearly two years but reeled in a six shot deficit on his way to a thrilling play-off victory against Swede Marcus Kinhult.
‘Africa’s Major’ is celebrating its milestone 40th anniversary this week, after a delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and Fleetwood is relishing the honour of teeing it up as the defending champion.
As the penultimate event in the 2022 DP World Tour season, there is plenty to play for at Sun City, not least for New Zealand’s Ryan Fox, who could leapfrog Rory McIlroy to the top of the DP World Tour Rankings in Partnership with Rolex with a win this week, in his bid to become the first Kiwi to be crowned European Number One.
Meanwhile Thriston Lawrence will be seeking a third win of the season, and a second on home soil, as he vies to be crowned Rookie of the Year.
European Ryder Cup Captain Luke Donald returns to the Nedbank Golf Challenge for the first time since 2014 as he continues to run the rule over the contenders for his side in Rome next year.
Tommy Fleetwood: This is a very special event for me. I grew up watching this event with my dad every year. I love the history behind it and the winners.
When you walk down the ninth hole on the left and you see all the winners from all the years on that walkway, I often thought it would be great to add my name on there.
To get that win was very cool. And now I’ve defended it longer than anybody. I think we’re all excited to come back.
I love the game in this country and how popular golf is over here. I’ve always enjoyed playing out here. I’m a massive believer in the game of golf and the good it does and how happy it makes people. I feel very at home here in South Africa.
Ryan Fox: I see these next few weeks as an opportunity, I’ve got nothing to lose. I’m still going to have my best year out here regardless. I’ve got a pretty good player ahead of me to chase down in Rory, and a pretty good player behind me in Fitz. I feel like my golf game is in a good place, and if I can have a good week and put it a bit more in my hands, we’ll see, but I feel really happy with where the game is at.
Winning has been the goal every week. Everyone in the field wants to be in contention on a Sunday afternoon, especially around a place like this. You can be five shots out going into that back nine on Sunday and still win the tournament.
Thriston Lawrence: I can’t wait. This is a lifelong dream, watching the guys since I have grown up always supporting this event. The tournament normally used to be over my birthday so to tee it up in my first Nedbank Golf Challenge is a dream come true.
I don’t think there has ever been a South African who has ever won the Rookie of the Year so it would be a great milestone for me.
I like to play and I just kept on playing every week. Once you start playing well and you don’t stop playing then you keep that form.
Luke Donald: This is a tough golf course, need to drive the ball well. Certainly danger on both sides. Once you are off the tee it’s not that easy going into the greens. It’s a bit a bit softer than previous years so that will make scoring a bit better, but it’s a good test this week.
I’m still working on (the game). You always have high standards for yourself. I still think I can come out here and compete, get in contention to have a chance to win. A few more things going on behind the scenes, things are a little busier these days with the captaincy, but I’m finding some time to practice.
Captain’s privilege to pick who I am playing with and get to see their game under pressure in tournaments. I’ve been watching a lot more European golf in the mornings from Florida, but that doesn’t relate to seeing the guys in person. Very happy with how the players have started qualification.