Seeking a fourth win

2013-12-04 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — Last week on holiday in Herold’s Bay, Ernie Els focused on three Fs: fitness, family and friends.

This week, those elements remain high on the Big Easy’s priority list, but in his 18th appearance in the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Sun City, there’s now also the incentive to add more records to his already impressive collection at the tournament by winning it for the fourth time.

The 44-year-old South African will, once again, be one of the biggest attractions at the event, after he decided a few weeks ago to abandon his initial participation in Tiger Woods’s tournament in the U.S.

“We were flying on Monday to Sun City, and my family was back together with me and my mom and dad. That was a big part of the attraction of playing here this week. Well, that and the fact that it is always a wonderful week,” Els said on his weekly blog.

Els, Sun City and records are synonymous with each other, with the great South African boasting 18 appearances after this weekend (just Bernhard Langer on 14 comes close), the lowest overall score of -25 under recorded, and he is tie with David Frost and Nick Price in holding the record for the most victories alike.

“When I look back at the years since my debut in 1992, this is definitely a tournament with great memories. The highlight [was] definitely the period between 1999 and 2002, when I won three times and came second in the other after a playoff. My combined score for those four years was -86,” Els said .

Winning this year, says Els, is definitely on the radar. “It would be nice to have a few more titles to place in my list of achievements,” he said.

What the Big Easy does not neglect to mention is how strong this year’s field is — “the strongest in several years”, he calls it.

And few would argue with that. With the expansion of the field from the traditional 12 to 30 this year, organisers have done well to secure some big international names.

Among them are European money winner Henrik Stenson, U.S. Open champion Justin Rose, two-time Nedbank champion Sergio Garcia, former world No. 1 Luke Donald and 2011 U.S. Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, who still has the sweet taste of victory fresh on the palate after his Alfred Dunhill victory on Sunday.

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