Record field for 2003 Nedbank Golf Challenge

BY | Southern Africa Tour | 2003 Nedbank Golf Challenge | General | 25 Sep 2003
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A record size field has been announced for the 23rd Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City from 27 to 30 November, with 18 of the world’s top players set to compete for the richest prize in professional golf.

In announcing the field, Tournament Chairman Philip Georgas explained that there had been excellent co-operation between the organisers of the Nedbank Golf Challenge and the Presidents Cup in terms of dates and size of field to ensure that both events benefited from the best possible player participation.

“We have drawn a record number of American players in the field this year,” said Georgas, “as it provided an exciting follow up to the Presidents Cup the previous week and an opportunity for some of the American players to experience what has become a favourite season-ender for many of the world’s best players.”

Once again leading the field in search of an unprecedented fourth Nedbank Golf Challenge title is South African favourite Ernie Els, the current world number two, who will have his work cut out defending the title he won in emphatic style last year.

Fijian Vijay Singh is the closest ranked player to Els in this year’s field and is coming off a superb year in all tournament play, including the Major championships. Singh has a point to prove at Sun City, having flattered to deceive in the past, and should pose a significant title threat, given the form he is in.

The American challenge will be led by David Toms, a former USPGA champion and Kenny Perry, experiencing the season of his life during which he has risen to a position firmly in the world’s top ten. Other Americans staying on after their Presidents Cup showdown are Chris DiMarco, who put up such a strong showing to finish third in last year’s Nedbank Golf Challenge, Jerry Kelly, the enigmatic youngster Charles Howell and the two ’older statesmen’, Fred Funk and Jay Haas, both captain’s picks in Jack Nicklaus’ Presidents Cup outfit.

There is an unprecedented representation from Australia, with no fewer than four players – Robert Allenby, Adam Scott, Stephen Leaney and Stuart Appleby – making the trip to Sun City. The first-time presence of Scott, a considerable 23-year-old talent who swings the club in remarkably similar fashion to Tiger Woods and who has broken through with a USPGA Tour win this year, should prove to be a major draw card.

Joining Els in representing the African continent are one of Sun City’s favourites, Zimbabwean Nick Price, a three-time winner, and Retief Goosen who, although apparently having a quiet year since the birth of his first child, has started to hit the kind of form in the latter half of the year that saw him win a Major championship in 2001.

Georgas explained that, while the bulk of the field is made up of Presidents Cup players, it was always the intention to send invitations to the three top European players on the world rankings, and they have duly accepted.

“The European players have always been tremendously supportive of our event,” said Georgas, “and it was important that, while we gave an opportunity to the Presidents Cup teams to have another week of top class golf while in South Africa, we recognised that European support and extended the field to be able to issue the necessary invitations.”

Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia and Darren Clarke are the European trio, with the latter having been in sparkling form this season and looking to make amends for some previously disappointing performances in this event.

Harrington, albeit unofficially, posted a course record of 62 at Sun City in 2001, while Garcia is capable of anything and everything, especially in front of the appreciative galleries at Sun City.

In extending the field and giving the loyal fans so much more to look forward to, the tournament committee has had no choice but to reduce the whopping $2 million first prize to provide a sufficient incentive for all in the field.

“Our first prize this year will be $1.2 million,” said Georgas, “but the reduction has not affected the attitude of the players in the slightest. If anything, the smaller gap in prize money between the winner and the ’places’ makes it a little fairer in their eyes, as we have also increased the prize money for second, third, fourth and fifth significantly. What is more, we are still putting up the largest first prize in golf; we are thrilled that such a high quality field has recognised that and are excited about competing.”

The Nedbank Golf Challenge will be played in six three-balls, with Supersport once again dedicating a satellite channel to each of the groupings to supplement the international broadcast feed. The extended field has also meant a shift of the starting time to 10h40 each day.

“We are privileged to have a title sponsor like Nedbank and broadcaster like Supersport,” said Georgas, “both of whom have bought in completely to the enlarged field and who have given their unequivocal support to everything we are trying to achieve this year. Their vision and backing will ensure that this year’s Nedbank Golf Challenge will provide more compelling viewing than ever.”

Field List
1. Ernie Els
2. Vijay Singh
3. David Toms
4. Kenny Perry
5. Padraig Harrington
6. Retief Goosen
7. Nick Price
8. Darren Clarke
9. Chris Di Marco
10. Robert Allenby
11. Jay Haas
12. Sergio Garcia
13. Adam Scott
14. Charles Howell III
15. Jerry Kelly
16. Fred Funk
17. Stephen Leaney
18. Stuart Appleby

Prize Money
1st Place – USD$1,200,000
2nd Place – $500,000
3rd Place – $400,000
4th Place – $300,000
5th Place – $200,000
6th Place – $165,000
7th Place – $145,000
8th Place – $135,000
9th Place – $130,000
10th Place – $125,000
11th Place – $120,000
12th Place – $115,000
13th Place – $100,000
14th Place – $95,000
15th Place – $90,000
16th Place – $85,000
17th Place – $80,000
18th Place – $75,000

Source – Nedbank Golf Challenge

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