New era for Nedbank Golf Challenge

21 June 2013

“Africa’s Major”, South Africa’s Nedbank Golf Challenge, will enter a new era in 2013 with the adoption of a new format, an increase in prize money, and the addition of official rankings points.

In a statement released on Thursday, it was announced that the event, which is now 32 years old, will be co-sanctioned by the Sunshine and European Tours and will feature an elite 30-man field competing for a prize purse of US$6.5-million, which is an increase of $1.5-million over 2012.

The winner will walk away with $1.5-million, while last place will be worth a cool $100 000.

‘An excellent relationship’

Keith Waters, the European Tour’s director of international policy, said: “The European Tour has long had an excellent relationship with South Africa and the Sunshine Tour, and this news will further strengthen that bond.

“The Nedbank Golf Challenge is an exciting addition to The European Tour International Schedule and to have such a lucrative purse on offer very early in the 2014 season gives a new dimension to The Race to Dubai,” Waters said.

“We are grateful to the support of Nedbank, Sun International and the Sunshine Tour and look forward to a fantastic tournament in December.”

Rankings, points, Order of Merit

Apart from counting towards the official world golf rankings, the tournament will also count towards Ryder Cup points, and official money on the Sunshine Tour’s Order of Merit and the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.

The qualification criteria for the field have been expanded. The defending champion, as always, is exempt, while the winner of the previous season’s Sunshine Tour Order of Merit is also guaranteed a place.

The new selection criteria also target the best of the world’s leading tours, from the PGA Tour and European Tour to the Japan Golf Tour. There will also be an increase in the number of South Africans eligible for qualification in the field.

South African tournaments

The winner of the 2013 South African Open and Alfred Dunhill Championship, played in the two weeks leading up to the Nedbank Golf Challenge, will gain exemption into the field.

There will also be a spot for the current number one and two on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit as of Monday, 25 November, 2013.

Selwyn Nathan, the executive director of the Sunshine Tour, said the new format of the Nedbank Golf Challenge would inspire a new generation of South African golfers as an event they want to compete in.

“The increased opportunity for our players is a major asset for the Sunshine Tour in terms of inspiring our current stars and also attracting other players to our tour,” Nathan said.

‘It can open doors’

“The Sunshine Tour has always prided itself on the fact that it can open doors for a player to compete in some of the biggest tournaments in world golf, and the 2013 Nedbank Golf Challenge will bring about an exciting conclusion to our season.”

Alastair Roper, tournament director of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, said that, with this new structure, “we have one of the most exciting fields in world golf.

“We have provided opportunities for the best in world golf to have their shot at qualifying for Africa’s Major. We’ll also have incredible momentum right up to the week before the Nedbank Golf Challenge, with players battling it out for a place in our field,” Roper said.

‘One of the premier tournaments in world golf’

“I have no doubt that we have strengthened the Nedbank Golf Challenge as one of the premier tournaments in world golf and the number one event in its time slot.”

Thulani Sibeko, group executive of marketing and communications at Nedbank, expressed the sponsor’s delight with the new vision of the tournament.

“Since 1981 the Nedbank Golf Challenge has remained at the forefront of world golf and has become an iconic event on the South African sporting calendar,” Sibeko said. “Through the enhancements to Africa’s Major, we continue to make world-class golf happen and bring the world’s best golfers to Sun City.”

SAinfo reporter

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