Henrik Stenson will be making a return to Sun City. Photo: Ian Walton/Reuters

RUSTENBURG  Henrik Stenson returns to the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player for the first time in three years when the 2016 Open Champion tees up in the penultimate Rolex Series event on the 2019 Race to Dubai from November 14 to 17.

The Swede, who lifted the trophy at Gary Player Country Club in 2008, became the first male Major champion from Scandinavia when he triumphed in The 145th Open Championship at Royal Troon three years ago. He recorded a final round 63 in a thrilling battle with Phil Mickelson, which drew comparisons with the legendary “Duel in the Sun” between Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus in 1977.

Stenson’s last appearance in Sun City came in the same year as that famous win as he went on to top the Race to Dubai Rankings for the second time, after first ascending to the European number one spot in 2013.

As both Sun City and the Gary Player Country Club celebrate their 40th anniversary, the 11-time European Tour winner will aim to claim a second Nedbank Golf Challenge title and his first since the event became part of the European Tour’s international schedule in the 2014 season.

The 43 year old has an impressive record in the event, finishing inside the top 10 in each of his last three appearances, including a runner-up finish behind Australian Marc Leishman in 2015.

Stenson said: “I’ve always enjoyed playing in the Nedbank Golf Challenge and I’m glad that I’m able to get back, especially as Sun City celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

“The last time I played in 2016 it was part of a pretty memorable year for me, and it would be great to mark my return by getting my hands on the trophy again.”

Gary Player said: “Our field for the Nedbank Golf Challenge is becoming one of the strongest in golf, and the addition of Henrik Stenson is exciting. He’s a Major Champion and a past winner at Sun City.

Stenson joins a field that includes fellow Race to Dubai winner Tommy Fleetwood, defending champion Lee Westwood and South African Major winner, Louis Oosthuizen.

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.

The Nedbank Golf Challenge will enhance its status as one of world golf’s elite tournaments this season with an increase in both the first-place prize money and Race to Dubai points. The winner will take home US$2.5 million, an increase on the US$1.25 million won by Westwood last year.

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 Championships tournaments offer. 

African News Agency (ANA)