Fourth time lucky for Els?

2005-11-30 21:32
Sun City - Twelve of the world's top golfers will tee off at the Gary Player country club in the 25th Nedbank Challenge on Thursday.

The winner will receive a cheque of $1.2m.

Only Stewart Cink of the US is not among the top 20 on the world rankings.

The first three on the rankings, Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson will not be at Sun City and in their absence people may think something will be lacking.

But the presence of Retief Goosen (fourth on the rankings), Ernie Els (fifth), Sergio Garcia (sixth), Jim Furyk (seventh) and Adam Scott (eighth) indicates that this is not a Mickey Mouse tournament.

Goosen is the defending champion and the punters' favourite. He has won three big tournaments this year - (two in the European series); the third in the American Masters and finished fifth in the British Open and sixth in the American PGA tournament.

Ernie Els has not played for five months as a result of a knee injury, but he has an ally in the Gary Player country club where he has won three times before.

Win for the fourth time

Fitness and a lack of self-confidence could hamper the Big Easy but he will go all out to become the first player to pocket the winners cheque for the fourth time.

Strong competition can be expected from the Americans Furyk and DiMarco, the Spaniard Garcia (who also likes the course) and the young Aussie Adam Scott.

Furyk ended among the top 10 eight times in PGA tournaments this year; DiMarco was second in the Masters (after a sudden death play-off) and finished second in two other tournaments.

Scott won the Nissan Open and the Singapore Open and he banked a lot of money after playing in the Majors.

Garcia won in both the PGA and European series and also played well in the Majors.

The spectators will definitely support Goosen, Els and Tim Clark, and no one will be surprised if the tournament closes with a sudden death play-off on Sunday.

Thursday's The tee-off times:

11:10: Angel Cabrera (Arg) and Adam Scott (Aus);

11:22: Stewart Cink (US) and Sergio Garcia (Sp);

11:34: Tim Clark (SA) and Luke Donald (Eng);

11:46: Jim Furyk (US) and Ernie Els (SA);

11:58: Kenny Perry (US) and Chris DiMarco (US) and

12:10: Darren Clarke (NIre) and Retief Goosen (SA).

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