Tommy Fleetwood will face a strong home challenge at the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player, as he enters a vital week in his battle to remain at the top of the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex.
The 26 year old’s lead is now a slender 134, 838 points after back-to-back victories for fellow Englishman Justin Rose, who is not in the field this week, but Fleetwood has an opportunity to move in to an unassailable position with victory in the penultimate tournament of the season, and the seventh of eight Rolex Series events on the Race to Dubai.
Dylan Frittelli is leading the South African charge as he aims to round off a special season with victory on home soil.
The Challenge Tour graduate secured his maiden European Tour title at the Lyoness Open powered by ORGANIC+ in June. That win coupled with two second place finishes, including at last week’s Turkish Airlines Open, has taken him to 18th position in the Race to Dubai.
He has special memories of this week’s event at Gary Player Country Club in Sun City, where as a teenager he watched many of the players that he now calls contemporaries in action.
Haydn Porteous is another young South African who grew up watching “Africa’s Major”, and with a place in next week’s season ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, at stake, he has extra motivation to become the first home winner of the Nedbank Golf Challenge since Trevor Immelman in 2007.
Dylan Frittelli: “Rolex Series events are always at the top of my list or anybody’s list on The European Tour. Obviously home crowd advantage and home surroundings will definitely aid my attempt to win this week.
“It’s a huge week. I’m going to just try to take it easy and stay out of the limelight and get some work done and just take it as another tournament week. But I’ve got a lot of family coming up and my sister is here already with my nephew, so we’ve had a bit of fun around the resort.
“I came up here when I was 15, 16, and I can remember a few of the players here. I watched Luke Donald play a practice round and Justin Rose was walking around with a couple wedges.
“He reminded me when we played on Saturday, he says, “How old you?” “I’m 27.” “Oh, ten years older.” I remembered that it was ten years ago that I saw him play in Sun City.
“It’s been a good season so far. If I do well the next two weeks, it could set me up even better for next year and give me some extra time off next year maybe, we’ll see. But yeah, I’m looking forward to the rest of the season and 2018 coming up now.”
Tommy Fleetwood: “Hats off to Rosey for the way he has played the last couple of weeks. It’s made it an interesting finish, but I could make it a lot more boring if I have a good week. It’s still kind of in my hands. I’ve still got to keep doing what I’m doing, and concentrate on what I’m doing.
“I would like to win the tournament, yeah. It’s at that stage where every shot counts. I would like to start the tournaments off a little bit quicker. The last couple of tournaments I’ve played OK on Thursdays and just not scored very well and then you’re sort of behind the eight ball. So I would like to get off to a good start, but if you don’t, keep going and keep your head down.
“I would love to win. Aside from everything that’s going on, it’s one of those tournaments. I would love to have my name on that path walking up the ninth. There’s a lot to play for.”
Haydn Porteous: “I always remember the barbeque ribs on the 17th green and watching the world’s best players. At the time it was limited-man field event, 14 or 15 guys, and they were usually the best players in the world at that time. To watch the world’s best around a golf course that you love, is an experience worth keeping in your memory.
“To now peg it up, obviously with a different sort of format, it doesn’t really take away from the fact that it’s a really big tournament in terms of getting into DP World. I’m really looking forward to it, I must say.