Welcome to the 'Green Monster'

2005-11-30 21:32
Sun City - Welcome to Sun City and good luck with the "Green Monster".

That is probably the most appropriate way to welcome the three debutantes to the Nedbank Challenge - Angel Cabrera (Argentina), Stewart Cink (US) and Luke Donald (Eng) - this year.

The challenging Gary Player course is not usually tamed on debut, with the rough, sun and heat the major stumbling blocks.

Some of the world's top players have seen first time victories disappear at this course.

Vijay Singh (Fiji) the second best player in world golf, played and 8 over par 80 in the first round in 1994 and eventually finished last - 19 shots over par.

Phil Mickelson of the US had a similar nightmare in his first tournament a year later. The No 3 in the world also ended last with a total of 298 (+10).

A first timer has been unable to win this tournament the past 18 years. The Zimbabwean Mark McNulty was the last debutant to win the challenge in 1986.

This underlines the challenges the course offers.

Apart from these damning statistics, Donald,27, thinks he has a good chance to make his mark.

"It's definitely a challenging course, but it fits my style of play."

He does not think the rough poses the biggest danger.

"It's not too bad. The greens could be problematic and the pin placing could prevent low scores," Donald said.

Can he win the tournament? "Yes, why not. It's my kind of course and I'm looking forward to Thursday."

The rain that fell at Sun City on Wednesday will suit Donald. He regularly plays in similar conditions in Europe and more rain is predicted for the next few days.

Cink made no secret of the fact that he has great respect for the course.

"It's a challenging course and it will be quite tough to play. You can't afford not to be at your best."

Cabrera, 14th on the world rankings and one of the hardest hitters, can also spring a surprise.

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