Tommy Fleetwood will look to create some breathing space between himself and the chasing pack in the Race to Dubai standings with a strong finish at the Nedbank Golf Challenge this week.
Justin Rose has won twice in as many weeks, most recently the Turkish Airlines Open, to move from 10th to second and within 140,000 points of his fellow Englishman. Sergio Garcia has won three times this season to sit in third within 1,000,000 points, whilst fellow Spaniard Jon Rahm is a further 200,000 points back in fourth.
But all three sit out of the penultimate event of the European Tour season this week opening the door for Fleetwood to move back into a strong lead. He will have to be wary, though, of in-form Tyrrell Hatton who is within 1,500,000 points in fifth and racked up back-to-back wins himself in October.
Despite notable absentees from the top of the Race to Dubai standings, the field is strengthened by Ross Fisher, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Alex Noren and Francesco Molinari from inside the top 10 as well as a further eight more from the top 20.
Noren claimed his fourth European Tour title in 11 starts at this event last year with a final round 63 to overturn a three-shot deficit and win by six strokes. The Swede will return to defend his title at the Gary Player Country Club this year alongside Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjørn (2013), Martin Kaymer (2012) and Lee Westwood (2010 and 2010) as past champions in the field.
The field also boasts nine South African players on home soil including last week’s runner-up Dylan Frittelli, Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace.
This Nedbank Golf Challenge dates back to 1981, although it has only featured on the European Tour since 2013, and has produced many famed winners including Garcia, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Henrik Stenson, Jim Furyk, Colin Montgomerie, Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros. After making its debut as a Final Series event last year, it features on the inaugural list of Rolex Series events this year.
As the last-but-one Rolex Series event of the year, this event has a course worthy of hosting it. The course at the Gary Player Country Club is a colossal par-72 measuring in at 7,831 yards. Only two courses, the Ritz-Carlton Golf and the Copperleaf Golf & Country Estate, have been longer in the history of the European Tour.
Wildlife grabs as much attention as golf round this place with a plethora of creatures regularly found taking strolls around the course.
— The Caddy’s Review (@TheCaddysReview) November 10, 2016
But ultimately the headlines will be taken by Fleetwood in his quest for a maiden Rolex Series event and Race to Dubai title.