Tiger Woods slips from Sun City claws

2013-08-25 14:00

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But organisers promise other top-class contenders.

Tiger Woods, the man South Africa and the rest of the world are dying to see at this year’s revamped, 30-player Nedbank Golf Challenge, will not be there.

These were the unsettling words from the tournament director Alastair Roper this week, following an announcement that the first batch of four players had already been confirmed for participation in the lucrative event.

They are South African Branden Grace, defending champion Martin Kaymer from Germany, Peter Senior from Australia and Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant.

“We would have loved to see Tiger playing in this year’s edition since it is a special one because of its revamp, but he can’t travel to South Africa as he has his own tournament in the US on the same dates,” said Roper.

Woods, whose incredible performance on the course has enabled him to cling firmly to the world number one spot in the rankings, last played in the Nedbank Golf Challenge in 1998 when he lost to Nick Price in the play-off.

“His fans here and abroad are dying to see him at Sun City, but we are positive that we will strike a deal with him in future to play here.

“That’s for sure,” said an optimistic Roper.

He said world number two American left-hander Phil Mickelson will also not be at Sun City as he is “commanding a high appearance fee”.

But Roper is chuffed about the calibre of players they have acquired thus far, adding that the focus was now on securing the signatures of the top 10 available players from the 30 on the US PGA FedEx Cup standings.

“By the end of September, we should be in a position to confirm who those final players in the weekly list are,” Roper said confidently.

Matt Kuchar comes in at number two on the FedEx Cup list, Brandt Snedeker is third and Mickelson and Bill Hass occupy the fourth and fifth places on this week’s list.

He said the signatures of American Jason Dufner, Englishman Justin Rose and Australian Adam Scott were almost a done deal and they can be expected to tee off at the Gary Player Country Club in December.

The trio won majors this year.

Dufner snatched the PGA Championship while Rose and Scott took the Masters and US Open respectively.

Roper said the presence of Grace as a debutant at Sun City was “commendable” as he is sure to make his mark at the contest.

And, of course, South Africa’s golfing icon Ernie Els will be showcasing his talent at the event.

“Ernie is keen to play at his favourite course, where we know he is a definite crowd puller. This is great for South African golf and the tournament itself,” concluded Roper.

FedExCup top 10 ranking this week

1 Tiger Woods

2 Matt Kuchar

3 Brandt Snideker

4 Phil Mickelson

5 Bill Haas

6 Billy Horschel

7 Justin Rose (England)

8 Jordan Spieth

9 Henrik Stenson (Sweden)

10 Keegan Bradley

»?The rest of the players are from the USA and ratings are updated weekly

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