Lee Westwood's NGC victory in 2018 made him the first player to win this tournament three times following his other victories in 2010 and 2011. Photo: REUTERS/Ian Walton

JOHANNESBURG – Lee Westwood will defend his title in the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player when he joins home favourite Louis Oosthuizen in the field at Sun City for the penultimate Rolex Series event of 2019 from November 14-17.

Westwood’s emotional three-stroke victory over Sergio Garcia in 2018 made him the first European golfer in the history of "Africa’s Major” to win this tournament three times following his other victories in 2010 and 2011.

The Englishman joined Southern Africans Ernie Els, Nick Price and David Frost as the only golfers to have ever won the Nedbank Golf Challenge three times.

This year, in what is also the 40th anniversary of Sun City and the Gary Player Country Club, Westwood will be looking to make history as the first golfer to win the Nedbank Golf Challenge four times, while 2010 Open Champion Oosthuizen will be seeking to win the title for the first time after finishing third last year, four shots behind the Ryder Cup legend.

Westwood’s final-round duel with Garcia and Oosthuizen last year resulted in the most successful edition of the tournament since it became a full European Tour event, with an overall attendance of 72 000 fans including over 20 000 each day on the weekend alone.

It has also been confirmed that the partnership between Nedbank, the European Tour and Sun International has been renewed until 2021.

This year the Nedbank Golf Challenge will entrench its status as one of world golf’s elite tournaments with an increase in both the first-place prize money and Race to Dubai points.

South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen will join defending champion Lee Westwood at Sun City in November. Photo: REUTERS/Paul Childs
South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen will join defending champion Lee Westwood at Sun City in November. Photo: REUTERS/Paul Childs

The winner of the 2019 Nedbank Golf Challenge will take home $2.5-million (about R37m), an increase on the $1.25 won by Westwood last year.

The overall prize fund remains at US$7.5m, with the balance of the 63-player field from second place onwards playing for a US$5m prize fund.

This year’s tournament also offers an increased haul of Race to Dubai points from 7 500 to 10 000, which places it above what the World Golf Championship tournaments offer.

Igbal Khan