Danny ready to go all out to defendon December 2, 2015
Defending champion Danny Willett believes there is only one way to play the Gary Player Country Club, and that’s to take it on and not hold back.
Willett says he’ll be employing the same aggressive strategy that won him the title last year when this year’s tournament tees off on Thursday.
“If you want to win you’ve got to take the golf course on. I’ll take the same strategy and be aggressive. The course sets up for people who hit it straight and it’s easier to go into these small greens with shorter irons,” said Willett.
And the Englishman believes the quality of this year’s 30-man field will also necessitate aggressive golf.
“In a small field of 30 player and looking at the winning scores of previous years, I think you have to go out there and shoot some good numbers. You can’t just chill out and make pars and expect that to be any good.”
With the course in great shape once again and the rough not as severe as in the past due to the drought in the area, the scoring is expected to be low this year.
But Charl Schwartzel says he’ll be taking a different approach on a golf course that, despite his love for the tournament, has not seen him enjoy the kind of success he would’ve liked. His best finish in his six previous appearances in the Nedbank Golf Challenge was second in 2012.
“Coming back to this event as a South African is always very special. It was the first tournament as a junior that my dad brought me to watch. It’s a special place for me. But I’ve struggled a bit on this golf course in the past. This year I’m coming in with a bit of form and that could maybe turn things around.”
Schwartzel believes his style of play is not suited to the aggressive approach of Willett.
“The golfers that find this golf course easy and can play it aggressively are those that hit a draw. It’s made for a player that draws a golf ball. I play with a fade on this course so I can’t be too aggressive.
“I’ve got to keep the ball in play with a lot of irons and three woods, and rely on good iron play from the fairways and good putting. That’s what going to win it for me. But if I swing it like I did on the range, it’ll be fine.”
Schwartzel is one of a group of five South Africans all hoping to end a lengthy drought of local champions in this tournament. The last South African to win the Nedbank Golf Challenge was Trevor Immelman in 2007, and Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace, Thomas Aiken and Jaco van Zyl are hoping to change that this week.
“I hope a South African can lift the trophy this time,” said Grace. “I’ve had a hell of a year, so I hope I can be the South African. If it’s not me then another South African.”