big boys invade greens

Meshack Motloung

Meshack Motloung

While odds seem to be stacked heavily against Trevor Immelman defending the Nedbank Golf Challenge this year, the South African has proved to be a tricky customer and could prevail again this term.

The event will be held at the famed Gary Player Country Club in Sun City from Thursday to Sunday.

Although tournament director Alistair Roper is optimistic that the South African stands a good chance of retaining his title, it will undoubtedly be a high mountain to climb for the defending champion.

"He is adamant that he will retain his title. He's fired up and ready for the big day," said Roper.

He added that James Kingston was also in with an outside chance but was a bit doubtful about Rory Sabbatini who he said was going through a lean spell this year after a sterling last season.

The beauty of golf is its unpredictability, especially given the nature of an event such as the Golf Challenge, where a dozen world class golfers all have a genuine chance at victory.

It will not be a walk in the park for the above-mentioned South Africans who will be facing strong contenders in Swedish golfers, Robert Karlsson and Hendrik Stenson.

The two are on song - they were part of the four that won the 54th World Cup of Golf at Mission Hills in Shenzhen, China, last Sunday.

Betting World, the official bookmakers for the tournament, have Spanish Sergio Garcia as the outright favourite.

Garcia is the two-time winner at the Gary Player Country Club and the most in-form player in the world at present.

South Korean KJ Choi, who will also be making his debut at this venue, was a popular member of the International team at the President Cup at Fancourt in 2003.

Englishman Justin Rose, who surprised most golfers when he made his first appearance last year and finished second to Immelman, also stands a good chance of winning the trophy.

Other contenders are Lee Westwood, Kenny Perry, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Luke Donald.