Cape Town - The 2018 Nedbank Golf Challenge was officially the most successful edition of this tournament since it became part of the European Tour as a Rolex Series event, one of eight premium tournaments on the Race to Dubai.
The attendance figures of this year's tournament, played at the Gary Player Country Club at Sun City from November 8-11, broke all previous attendance records.
The overall attendance of the event saw an increase of 10 percent on the previous best to more than 72 000 fans this year. The weekend in particular saw 20 000 fans stream in on each of the days.
This year's field included major drawcards such as Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia as well as a strong South African contingent in defending champion Branden Grace and Major champions Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel.
Englishman Lee Westwood claimed the title by three strokes, becoming the first European golfer to win "Africa's Major" three times.
There was also the induction of former South African professional and now well-known television commentator Dale Hayes into the South African Hall of Fame, with Gary Player delivering the keynote address.
But the overwhelming response from South African golf fans this year has confirmed the Nedbank Golf Challenge's status as one of the leading sports events in South Africa, and undoubtedly a premium event on the European Tour schedule as the penultimate tournament on the season-long Race to Dubai.
"The Nedbank Golf Challenge remains one of South Africa's flagship sporting events and we are extremely proud to have delivered yet another successful tournament together with our main sponsor, Nedbank, our partners at the European Tour and our many other fantastic sponsors," said Anthony Leeming, Chief Executive of Sun International.
The overall scale of the tournament took another major step forward in 2018 with a more comprehensive Public Village that included several dining options as well as new activations for the fans to enjoy. From a food and beverage perspective alone there was a significant investment in presenting the fans and players with an experience unrivalled in the world of golf.
"We installed a new R20 million main kitchen for this tournament to keep pace with modern trends and the demand, which included making close to 50 000 pieces of dessert, 60 000 pieces of hot food, and almost 41 000 pieces of dairy products for this year’s event," said Ronald Ramsamy, the Sun International Group Executive Chef.
"I don’t think there is any other golf tournament out there that puts this much effort and research into food and beverage. We are really focused on making the Nedbank Golf Challenge a world-class African experience."
The tournament again established itself as one of the most popular stops on the European Tour for the players, who particularly enjoy the relaxed atmosphere encompassed by evening events such as the Beach Party at the Valley of Waves.
"This is a tournament I love playing, and I love coming back to Sun City. It's always a fantastic atmosphere," said Westwood.
From an innovation perspective, there was a new cutting-edge VR experience presented by Nedbank which took fans through the history of the tournament, and a complete Nedbank Golf Challenge app that allows fans to not only keep up with the latest news but also enter various competitions and even pay for merchandise and food.
Keith Pelley, European Tour Chief Executive said: "The Nedbank Golf Challenge continues to flourish, going from strength to strength each year, and I am extremely pleased that we have delivered another fantastic tournament for our fans in South Africa and those watching around the world.
"Our partners at Nedbank and Sun International are always looking for innovative ways to make this Rolex Series event special for the players and fans alike, and with Gary Player as tournament host, we know it will always be a tournament to remember."