Special field for Africa’s Major
Harare- Welshman Jamie Donaldson produced the iconic winning moment of Europe’s 2014 Ryder Cup victory on the final day at the Centenary Course at Gleneagles with an incredible approach, on the 15th hole, which he described as “the wedge shot of my life.”
From 133 metres, Donaldson hit his sweet approach shot to within just a few centimetres of the hole, forcing a concession from United States golfer Keegan Bradley, to win 4&3 in his singles contest and power Europe to a 14 ½ – 9 ½ victory for its eighth Ryder Cup win in the last 10 battles.
The Welshman, who earned a kiss from Europe captain Paul McGinley for closing it out and becoming the first rookie to make a winning shot in the Ryder Cup since Swede Henrik Stenson in 2006, ignored his doctor’s orders to quit the game, 10 years ago, because of chronic back pain.
Next month, Donaldson and almost half of his victorious European Ryder Cup teammates, will be at Sun City in South Africa to battle for the 2014 Nedbank Golf Challenge when Africa’s Major, offering its winner a cool US$1.25 million, tees off on December 4.
Two-time Major winner Martin Kaymer, Thomas Bjørn, Victor Dubuisson, Stephen Gallacher and Lee Westwood are some of Europe’s Ryder Cup winning stars who will be part of another star-studded field at Sun City.
Bjørn will be defending the title he won last year when he eased to a two-stroke victory.
Miguel Angel Jiminez, the Spaniard who was vice-captain for Europe, is also part of the field of the tournament sanctioned by both the European and Sunshine Tours.
Nedbank Golf Challenge tournament director, Alastair Roper, described the confirmation of the participation of Europe’s Ryder Cup stars as a major coup.
“To secure half of the European Ryder Cup team, which is by far the biggest representation of that team to be playing in a single tournament anywhere in the world at this same time, is a major coup for us in a year when European golfers are in such demand following their Ryder Cup victory,” Roper told the official tournament website.
“The field is taking shape very nicely and we’ve started the infrastructure build at Sun City.
“As always we like to bring in a few new elements each year, and I think golf fans are going to really enjoy what we have planned for this year’s tournament.”
Thirty players will battle for the US$6.5 million purse in Africa’s premier golf tournament and a number of former winners have already confirmed their participation.
German golfer, Kaymer, who was outstanding for the Europeans in their Ryder Cup triumph, will be hoping to win the tournament again after his triumph two years ago.
Kaymer has been one of the best players on tour in the world this year and won his second Major, the 2014 US Open, destroying the field by eight strokes at Pinehurst No 2, and becoming the first golfer from continental Europe to win the US Open.
It’s been a journey back to the top for Kaymer, after a period in the wilderness following his first Major when he won the PGA Championship four years ago, and that trip has seen him sink the winning putt at Medina, to win the Ryder Cup for Europe two years ago, and also capturing the Players Championships this year.
“Well, you know, it shouldn’t sound cocky or arrogant, but I knew it would come,” Kaymer told the Golf Channel after he left Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton in the shade to win the 2014 US Open by a country mile.
“I knew that I would play good golf again. There was enough belief there. I just didn’t think it would take me that much time to get back where I was or, actually, not where I was I think I play better golf now.
“I’m more of a complete player. It was just a matter of time.”
NEDBANK GOLF CHALLENGE CONFIRMED PLAYERS:
2014 European Ryder Cup players
• Past Champions
Thomas Bjørn – 2013
Martin Kaymer – 2012
Lee Westwood – 2010, 2011
• Major Champions
Martin Kaymer – 2010 PGA Championship, 2014 US Open
Charl Schwartzel – 2011 Masters
• Former World Number Ones