Golf | 30 Nov 2014 | By Sun International
1 Course. 4 Days. 30 Players. The Purse? US$6.5 Million.
Martin Kaymer | Nedbank Golf Challenge 2014
The Nedbank Golf Challenge has the players, the course and the prize money to make it as prestigious a golf event as any on the planet.
Top-level golf has a handful of competitions that, through a combination of prestige and tradition, stand out from the rest.
But to the four official ‘Majors’ – the 80-year-old US Masters, 98-year-old PGA Championship, 119-year-old US Open and 154-year-old British Open – you can add a fifth: the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
Although only established a generation ago, in 1981, it’s already right up there with the world’s greatest… and it’s not hard to see why.
What started out as a five-player contest has grown into an elite event, featuring 30 of the world’s top players. And it’s not just guys coasting on their reputations: each one is in form and at the top of his game.
This year’s event will include the past four years’ winners – Thomas Bjørn, Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood – plus 2013 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit winner Dawie van der Walt, Alfred Dunhill Championship winner Charl Schwartzel, 2013 Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Kiradech Aphibarnrat, EurAsia Cup captains Miguel Ángel Jiménez and Thongchai Jaidee, and Ryder Cup stars Stephen Gallacher, Victor Dubuisson and Luke Donald. We’re talking the big dogs here.
Previous champions have included Major winners like Johnny Miller (who won the inaugural event in 1981), Seve Ballesteros (1983 and ’84), Bernhard Langer (1985 and ’91), Ian Woosnam (1987), Nick Price (1993, ’97 and ’98), Nick Faldo (1994), Corey Pavin (1995), Ernie Els (1999, 2000 and 2002), Retief Goosen (2004), Jim Furyk (2005 and ’06), Trevor Immelman (2007) and Martin Kaymer (2012). It’s a testament to the level of competition that all-time greats like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have competed in the Nedbank Golf Challenge but never won.
The Nedbank Golf Challenge is played at the same course every year: the world-class Gary Player Country Club at Sun City. And when we say world class, we’re not kidding. The course was designed by nine-time Major winner Gary Player, and is both famous for its beauty (it’s hard to beat those Pilanesberg mountains in the background) and notorious for its difficulty. It’s more than 7 000m long, forcing players to bring their A-game from the tee (misjudge your drive, and you’ll go looking for your ball in the bush) and on the green, where the various pin position options really make you earn your money.
OK, so about the money… Befitting the glamour and high-stakes thrills of Sun City, the Nedbank Golf Challenge is easily one of the richest golf tournaments in the world. This year the total prize purse is US$6,5 million, with the winner taking home a cool US$1,25 million (that’s about R13,7 million). Even last place pockets a handy US$100 000 (about R1,096 million).
Honestly, you can build a career on the Nedbank Golf Challenge alone: Ernie Els has played the event 17 times and won it three times, taking home a massive US$8 million (about R87,7 million) in overall prize money!
THE 18th HOLE
This is where it all ends. In all likelihood, the 18th and final hole of Sun City’s Gary Player Country Club will be where the 2014 Nedbank Golf Challenge is decided. And it’s the sort of hole that could spring some last-gasp surprises.
‘This is a deceptively difficult Par 4,’ says Gary Player, who designed the course himself. ‘It’s very important to hit the fairway, as your second shot is over a large expanse of water.’ A good tee shot will land at the bend of the dogleg, leaving a long second shot over the water. And that’s where things get really interesting.
That second shot is all about accuracy. Too short, and the ball will be lost in the water. Too far left or right, and it’s in the bush or – worse still – in either of the two bunkers guarding the front of the green. If the golfer gets it wrong, he’ll be in a world of pain. ‘Pin placements can be very difficult and require accurate second shots,’ Gary confirms. ‘If you miss the green on the right-hand side, it is very difficult to get up and down. The hole plays much longer than it looks.’
Why should the golfers make all the money? Place a wager on the action at the Nedbank Golf Challenge – either at the event, or online through SunBet, Sun International’s online sports betting site – and possibly take home some prize money of your own.
TO PLACE A CASH BET AT THE EVENT…
Go to a marquee where cash betting is offered and follow these easy steps:
1. Pick a market. Your options at the NGC will range from the leader after Day 1, 2 or 3 to the tournament winner, top South African and European golfer, and whether or not there’ll be a hole-in-one.
2. Get the odds. Now pick the player you want to place your wager on and the teller will show you the betting odds.
3. Place your bet! Happy with the odds?
Then place a cash bet by telling the teller how much you want to wager. You’ll get a printed ticket confirming your wager and showing the amount you stand to win.
4. Collect your winnings. If your golfer wins in the market you’ve chosen, simply hand in your ticket and you’ll receive your winnings in cash.
TO BET ONLINE…
Go to www.sunbet.co.za and do the following:
LOG IN. Create a new account (or log in if you already have one), then select ‘Golf’ from the
menu on the left-hand side of the screen.
PICK YOUR EVENT. The page will now show all the golf events SunBet has on offer. Select the
tour event you want to bet on – which in this case will be the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
PICK A MARKET. Choose the betting market you want – like tournament winner, top 5, top 10, and so on – and select the golfer you want to bet on. The betting odds will appear alongside your selection.
PLACE YOUR BET. Once you’ve selected your golfer, your betting slip will open up on the right-hand side of the page. Enter the amount you want to wager in the stake box and you’ll be shown how much you stand to win if your prediction is correct. Happy? Then click ‘Place Bet’.
GO BACK AND BET AGAIN! SunBet will be offering Nedbank Golf Challenge Live, which lets you
place bets on the tournament winner at any stage of the tournament… right until the final putt.