The Nedbank Golf Challenge has become one of the biggest events on the European Tour. It was included in the exclusive Rolex Series of events in 2017 but this has always been an exclusive event. For a long time, the Nedbank Golf Challenge was a small field invitational event that provided players with the chance to compete in a more relaxed atmosphere than usual at the end of the year. While it remains in November, the event has changed considerably with the field size growing from just eight or 12 players when it was called the Nedbank Million Dollar Challenge to 72 as part of the European Tour.
The tournament takes place at Gary Player Country Club in Sun City, in the north of South Africa. The field is open to the top 64 players on the current Race to Dubai standings as well as the winner of Sunshine Tour order of merit and tournament invitations.
|2022||Gary Player Country Club||Tommy Fleetwood|
|2019||Gary Player Country Club||Tommy Fleetwood|
|2018||Gary Player Country Club||Lee Westwood|
2022: Tommy Fleetwood
As wins on the DP World Tour go, none could be any more deserved or warmly welcomed than Tommy Fleetwood’s victory at the 2022 Nedbank Golf Challenge. It had been a very tough three years in between wins for the European Ryder Cup star. Not only had he struggled with his game on the course, but he’d also had several challenges off course including moving his family from the UK and the loss of his mother.
Given all of those difficulties, it was no surprise to see Fleetwood in tears after he saw off the challenge of Ryan Fox at Gary Player Country Club. The 31 year old's connection to this tournament doubtless added to the emotion. His last win came in the most recent edition of the Nedbank Golf Challenge and he proved beyond any doubt that this venue is very well suited to his game during a thrilling final round.
Starting Sunday’s round three shots behind the leaders, Fleetwood decided to play aggressive golf. That decision instantly paid off as he began making up the ground. A belated title defence still looked unlikely until Fleetwood made an eagle on the 14th hole on his way to a round of 67 and a winning score of 11 under par. "It's been a great week," said Fleetwood afterwards. "I already had so many great memories from this place and felt like I had a great connection to it, so this just added to that."
The 2021 tournament was cancelled.
The 2020 tournament was cancelled.
2019: Tommy Fleetwood
One year after Lee Westwood posted a stunning final round to come from behind and win the Nedbank Golf Challenge, Tommy Fleetwood did likewise at Sun City.
Fleetwood went into the final round with no expectations. He was six shots off the lead that was held by Marcus Kinhult but quickly set about chasing the Swede down. Fleetwood made no fewer than three eagles during his final round of 65 which showed just why he is such an exciting golfer. The stronger he got, the more pressure Kinhult felt and he saw his lead gradually evaporate until going into that playoff.
The momentum was all with Fleetwood going into extra holes. In contrast, Kinhult looked like a frustrated man. Perhaps because he was pushing to find an extra gear, Kinhult made a mess of the first playoff hole for a bogey. Fleetwood, too, struggled at the start of the playoff but he recovered with an excellent up and down for a par. That would prove enough to complete the comeback.
“It’s really, really cool when you win a tournament,” said a typically understated Fleetwood after a win which moved him to second in the Race to Dubai rankings with just one event to go. This win gave him the perfect shot of confidence ahead of his attempts to be crowned Europe’s number one golfer for the second time.
2018: Lee Westwood
Gary Player Country Club stretches to over 7,800 yards. The reason for that length is to stop the course, which sits around 1,100 meters above sea level, from being overpowered. You would expect that the younger, physically gifted players making their way in the sport would be the ones who could take this course on but Lee Westwood proved that older players can also thrive here with a stunning win at the 2018 Nedbank Golf Challenge.
There were times when Westwood wondered whether he would win again on the European Tour. Professional golfers aren’t supposed to be resurgent at the age of 45 but continued dedication paid dividends for the man from Worksop. The technical and physical work that he had put in certainly paid off with a three-stroke victory over another highly experienced European Tour star, Sergio Garcia.
Joined by his partner Helen as his caddie, Westwood could not hold in the emotions after sinking his final putt on the 18th green. That was the final shot of a brilliant week and an especially brilliant Sunday in which he overtook Garcia thanks to a round of 64. “You’re never sure whether you’re going to be able to do it again,” said a tearful Westwood afterwards but this was not his first strong performance of the season and it wouldn't be his last.