All set for Sun City

2004-12-02 07:19
Sun City - Twelve of the world's top golfers practiced their shots and inspected the greens at the Gary Player County Club on Wednesday while fun-lovers and pensioners packed the casinos on the eve of the first round of the 2004 Nedbank Golf Challenge.

The winner of the tournament will pocket $1.2m and the runner-up $500 000.

Patriotism in sport has no boundaries and thousands of spectators are expected to watch and applaud every shot played by Ernie Els and Retief Goosen.

Els may be the favourite because he is the world's No 3 player, has played in the challenge 12 times and has won it three times.

Goosen played in Els's shadow for years, but there is no doubt that he has found his rhythm this year. He has placed his second US Open trophy in his display cabinet.

The jovial Spaniard, Sergio Garcia, is the defending champion and after three victories in several tournaments, as well as being a member of the victorious European Ryder Cup team, he is sure to show his mastery of the game.

Hennie Brandt reports that Garcia beat Els in the first play-off hole in 2001 and last year he beat Goosen in a similar fashion.

Els, Goosen and Garcia are the favourites to win the title this year, but one should never forget the American contingent.

Chris DiMarco, Jim Furyk and Jay Haas have been professionals for many years and they will put up a rock-solid performance.

Another contender is Stuart Appleby of Australia. He won the Mercedes Open earlier this year, was second in the Bay Hill Invitational and third in the Nissan Open.

No one really knows what is going to happen and the evergreen Nick Price, playing in his 13th challenge, may just walk off with the trophy.

Three newcomers to the challenge, Chad Campbell, Todd Hamilton or Frederik Jacobson, may also spring a surprise.

Tee-off times:
11:10: Ernie Els and Chad Campbell;
11:22: Nick Price and Frederik Jacobson;
11:34: Retief Goosen and Lee Westwood;
11:46: Chris DiMarco and Stuart Applelby;
11:58: Jay Haas and Todd Hamilton;
12:10: Jim Furyk and Sergio Garcia.

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