World stars for Sun City

2005-11-28 21:35
Johannesburg - The Nedbank golf challenge is battling to convince some of the top players in the world to participate.

When the tournament begins at Sun City's Gary Player course on Thursday, the winners of this year's four biggest tournaments will be absent.

The organisers have been unable to convince Tiger Woods (American Masters and the British Open), Michael Campbell (American Open) or Phil Mickelson (American PGA tournament) to travel to Sun City.

Despite their absence, a strong field will tee off on Thursday as seven of the 12 competitors are among the top 10 on the world rankings.

Statistics show that from 1990 to 1999 no fewer than 17 players who have won a Grand Slam tournament have been in action. Among the players are Ian Woosnam (Wales), John Daly (US), Nick Faldo (England), Nick Price (Zimbabwe), Bernhard Langer (Germany), Ernie Els (South Africa) and Jose Maria Olazabal (Spain).

All four the 1996 winners (Faldo (American Masters), Steve Jones (American Open), Tom Lehman (British Open) and Mark Brooks (American PGA tournament) were in action in Sun City that year.

In the years since 2000 just three of the Grand Slam winners (Els (British Open in 2002), Retief Goosen (American Open in 2001 and 2004) and Todd Hamilton (British Open in 2004) took part.

The director of the tournament, Alastair Roper, said players were invited depending on their world ranking.

"Obviously we would have liked to host someone like Campbell (New Zealand). As it is, he would have liked to have taken part. However Padraig Harrington (Ireland) kept us waiting.

"By the time Harrington declined the invitation, Campbell had already decided to take part in another tournament.

"If Padraig hadn't taken so long to make up his mind, the popular Kiwi would have played here. This opened the door for Stewart Cink (US), to take part," Roper said.

Cink is the only player taking part who is not among the top 20 in world golf. He is in 27th place on the world rankings.

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