Local Favorites Head South African Field


Twelve players will compete for a $2 million first-place prize this week in Sun City, South Africa.
The Nedbank Golf Challenge features golfs most lucrative payout. Local favorite Ernie Els is the two-time defending champion. Two years ago he set a tournament record, shooting 25-under-par 263 at the Gary Player Country Club.
Reigning U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, who is making his debut in Sun City, joins Els. The two South Africans are just two weeks removed from teaming together to take the World Cup title in Japan.
The remaining 10 players in the field include American Jim Furyk, Spains Sergio Garcia, Germanys Bernhard Langer, Scotlands Colin Montgomerie, Englands Lee Westwood, Canadian Mike Weir, Dane Thomas Bjorn, Zimbabwean Nick Price, Irelands Padraig Harrington and Northern Irelands Darren Clarke.
Westwood, who failed to win on the European Tour in 2001, lost in a playoff to Els a year ago.
Langer is a replacement for David Toms, who pulled out of the tournament due to reservations about traveling. The 44-year-old is searching for his third victory in three different decades at this event. He won in 1985 and 1991.
Price won this event in 1997 and 98, while Montgomerie is the only other player in the field to have won in Sun City, doing so in 1996.
Harrington and Weir are each newcomers to the event. Both players won the season-ending tournaments on their respective tours, with Harrington winning the European Tours Volvo Masters and Weir capturing the PGA Tours Tour Championship.
Harrington had no problems adjusting to the course. He shot 10-under-par 62 in Wednesdays pro-am.
Only three Americans have won this tournament since its inception in 1981. Johnny Miller won the inaugural event; Raymond Floyd won the following year. And Corey Pavin was the last States-man to win, that coming in 1995.