Best bets for the DP World Tour Nedbank Golf Challenge

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Nedbank Golf Challenge

The penultimate event on the 2023 DP World Tour schedule is the Nedbank Golf Challenge, a limited-field event held in Sun City, South Africa, and hosted by Gary Player. The field includes available Top 60 Race to Dubai players and some others.

 

The event’s defending champion is Tommy Fleetwood (+750), who also won here in 2019.

Max Homa (9-1) and Justin Thomas (14-1) will tee it up for the first time competitively since their defeat as part of Team USA at the Ryder Cup.

Ryan Fox (16-1) was the runner-up here to Fleetwood last year.

Justin Rose (20-1), Aaron Rai (22-1) and Adrian Meronk (22-1) follow on the odds board.

Branden Grace (22-1), the winner here in 2017, leads the home South African contingent.

The Event

The Nedbank Golf Challenge’s history dates all the way back to 1981. It began as a five-player tournament on Dec. 31 with Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Seve Ballesteros and the eventual winner of the event, Johnny Miller. It remained in a similar format, with no more than 12 players, all the way through 1999. This tournament remained an unofficial event from 1981 to 2005 before the Sunshine Tour in South Africa began sanctioning the event in 2006 up to 2012. The European Tour and Sunshine Tour co-sanctioned the challenge from 2013-2015. The no-cut field is now made up of 65 available players from the current Race to Dubai standings, the event’s defending champion, the winner of the Sunshine Tour’s Order of Merit from the previous year and tournament invitations. Its winners list reads as a who’s who of golf including Miller, Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Ian Woosnam, Nick Price, Colin Montgomerie, Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia and Jim Furyk.

The Course

The Gary Player Golf Club, located in Sun City, is a par-72 that measures at 7,834 yards but essentially plays at around 7,500 yards because it is played at altitude (3,721 feet). The kikuyu fairways are of average width and the greens are slick Bentgrass. Players who miss the fairways will be punished as thick kikuyu rough can swallow up errant tee shots. The course is also well bunkered with a fair number of mounds and swales.

The course record of 62 was set at the 2011 event by Lee Westwood on his way to victory.

For the weather conditions this week, temperatures will edge towards 90 degrees by the weekend and winds will be light at 5-10 mph.

Recent History/Winners

2022: Tommy Fleetwood (-11/277); 11-1

2021: Event canceled due to COVID-19

2020: Event canceled due to COVID-19

2019: Tommy Fleetwood (-12/276); 14-1*

2018: Lee Westwood (-13/275), 40-1

2017: Branden Grace (-11/277), 16-1

2016: Alex Noren (-14/274), 20-1

2015: Marc Leishman (-19/269), 66-1

2014: Danny Willett (-18/270), 25-1

2013: Thomas Bjorn (-20/268), 30-1

Playoff win over Marcus Kinhult – *

Note: The 2016-2019 events had fields of 72 players. The 2013-2015 events had fields of 30 players.

Selections

Justin Rose (20-1, BetMGM)

Rose makes his first appearance in this event in 10 years.

Rose is an Englishman who moved to England when he was 5, but he was born in Johannesburg and won his first professional title in South Africa, so this event is special to him despite the long hiatus.

He sits 91st in the Race to Dubai and needed an invitation to compete here. Rose needs at least a top-3 to play next week in Dubai at the DP World Tour Championship.

Aaron Rai (22-1, BetMGM)

Rai finished eighth and 13th here on two appearances.

His form since June has been strong. A 12th at Colonial, third at the Canadian Open and ninth at the Rocket Mortgage Classic on the PGA Tour were all positive performances, and he came within a hair of forcing a playoff at Wentworth in September, eventually finishing in a tie for second behind Ryan Fox.

Finishing 28th at the Shriners Open, 21st at the ZOZO Championship and ninth last time out in Qatar shows progression, and there’s even a hint that his putting might be improving, as he produced positive Strokes Gained numbers at Wentworth and Doha.

Rasmus Hojgaard (28-1, Caesars Sportsbook)

Rasmus was eighth here last year.

He is a former winner of the European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre, so he is adept at winning on courses played at altitude.

Already a winner earlier this year in his native Denmark at the Made in HimmerLand, Rasmus had to watch his twin brother, Nicolai, be part of the winning European team in the Ryder Cup. Certainly, the motivation is there to end 2023 on a high note.

Matt Wallace (45-1, Caesars Sportsbook)

Wallace was fifth here in 2018.

He is just outside the Top 50 for the Race to Dubai, so a good finish should get him into the season finale next week.

After winning the Corales Puntacana Championship in the Dominican Republic earlier this year and locking up his PGA Tour card for the next two years, Wallace has had a couple of close calls with a runner-up at the Czech Masters, a T-6 at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and a T-9 last time out at the Qatar Masters.

Sebastian Soderberg (80-1, Superbook Sports)

Soderberg has not missed a cut since July.

He finished fifth last year and also has won the European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre, which is another event that is played at extreme altitude.

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