The Gary Player course at Sun City in South Africa that is the regular host of this week’s Nedbank Challenge is over 7800 yards in length which is above average even by modern standards. There will be a premium on distance over accuracy so it is the big hitters who will have the best chance to win this valuable unofficial event.
The regular Tours in Europe and the States are now completed and it was a great year for Rory McIlroy. He won most cash on both Tours and is now taking a break from the game. With McIlroy not likely to play competitively again until the New Year the Nedbank event gives an opportunity to other players to excel.
The course set up will suit Lee Westwood (pictured) and he has won the last two renewals at Sun City. Arguably Westwood is the best player in the world from tee to green and it is only his moderate mid-length putting that has prevented him from winning that first elusive major championship.
Westwood will see this week’s event as an opportunity to get to know his new permanent caddie and work on any minor faults in his game. His focus will now be on the start of the 2013 season and honing his game in preparation for the US Masters in April. He will now be based in the United States and will not play in Europe until May.
Westwood’s winning score over the last two years has been 15 and 17 under. That is a good return for a course of this length on which approach shots require mid-irons and eagle opportunities are at a premium. The four par fives will only be reachable by the longer hitters.
Nicolas Colsaerts comes intro that category. The Belgian player has an advantage over the rest of the field when length is an issue. Statistically he is the longest hitter on the European Tour and the par fives will be in range for this player.
There are two major champions from South Africa in the field. Louis Oosthuizen’s game is all about accuracy and he will be at a distinct disadvantage as he is no more than average off the tee. However, Oosthuizen seems to contend whenever he tees it up in recent weeks and a player at number seven in the world rankings cannot be dismissed when identifying possible winners.
However, Charl Schwartzel looks to have a better chance to win in his own country. The 2011 Masters champion scores well for the distance stats and given the type of week he had on the greens at Augusta must contend and looks a potential winner of this lucrative event.