Trevor Immelman, who won the Vodacom Players Championship at Royal Cape in December, is the only winner on the summer section of the tour to be in the field, but no fewer than nine winners on the winter segment of the current tour will be battling it out over the Royal Swazi Sun Golf Course, located near Mbabane.
Their victories span the entire winter tour, stretching back to the start of the tour in March, when Titch Moore won the Cock of the North and James Loughnane won his second Zambian Open in the country of his birth and going right through to the Riviera Resort Classic in Vereeniging, where Ulrich van den Berg picked up his maiden professional victory in November.
Also in the field are Zimbabwean Mark Cayeux, who won at Pietersburg, Jean Hugo, Richard Kaplan, Brett Liddle, Ryan Reid and Nico van Rensburg, who established a record winning margin for a 54-hole tournament when he romped home in the Vodacom Series: Gauteng at his home club of Silver Lakes in May.
Those 10 players, however, are certainly not the only ones to watch in an event which also includes a large pro-am component. American Bruce Vaughan led the Dimension Data Pro-Am through 36 holes and has a superb record in southern Africa, while Hennie Otto went one better by leading the Mercedes Benz SA Open for the first 54 holes, before his composure unraveled a little over the last 18 holes. Both will be looking to atone in Swaziland.
Big Bradford Vaughan has played himself into the top five on the order of merit and Dean van Staden always seems like steadiness personified, as his 72 holes without a bogey, when he finished second to Desvonde Botes in the 1998 SA Masters at Oppenheimer Park in Welkom, amply illustrates. He challenged for the first 36 holes at the Pietersburg Classic, before a superb 64 by Cayeux blew the field away, but has yet to add to his 1997/8 victory at the Vodacom Series: Free State and is surely due for a second win.