Confidence low for Sun City

2005-11-29 18:44
Sun City - Neither of the two favourites expressed too much confidence in their games head of Thursday's start of the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

The tournament, which is celebrating its 25th year, is played over the par-72 Gary Player Country Club course.

But there appears to be doubt in the minds of South Africa's leading contenders - defending champion Retief Goosen and three-time former champion Ernie Els.

Els is playing his first tournament since July following a knee injury and admits to being a "little anxious".

"I played my first 18 holes about a month ago at Wentworth and I've hit a lot of balls over the last few days.

"My knee feels good today and I wanted to make my return here but I do feel a little anxious. Now I need to see if I can go out there and make a score," said Els.

He added that while he is slated to play next week at the Dunhill Championships and the following week at the SAA Open, a lot would depend on how his knee holds out over the next few days.

Even going into next year, Els is curtailing his schedule somewhat. "I'm going to play in Qatar and Dubai but then I'm not going to Australia for their event. I do want be fully tuned up by the time the Masters begins."

Defending champion Goosen acknowledged that his swing has not been great the whole year. "It has still been a good year though. I did win three tournaments. But it would have been a great year if I could have converted a couple of those close finishes, particularly in the majors."

Goosen comfortable on the course

Goosen though still remains confident he can pull off the double. "I always feel comfortable on this course and it really suits my game.

"The course is lush and green and the rough is not quite as high as last year in some places. But it is important to chip and putt well here because the pins are usually in tricky parts of the greens."

That should suit Els though as he spent a large part of his recovery chipping and putting. "After the operation I couldn't play at all and I just sat around and watched a lot of TV.

After a while a could chip and putt but I got pretty bored just chipping and putting for three hours a day."

However, if Goosen's assessment is accurate, those hours of chipping and putting could well be Els's saving grace this week."

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