Nedbank Golf Challenge Speculation Heats Upon August 11, 2011
On the eve of the season’s final major, the PGA Championship, South African golf fans are beginning to speculate on what big names are likely to make the 12-man field that will contest the 31st Nedbank Golf Challenge. Traditionally the final invitations are sent out after the result of this event is known. Of course adding more spice to the guessing game is the composition of the Nedbank Senior Golf Challenge, the 54-hole tournament-within-a-tournament featuring the best of the world’s top over-50 stars, a list that is scheduled to be released later this month.
But as season’s fourth major is about to be decided, there are a few rather interesting sub-plots to be played out at the Atlanta Athletic Club. Certainly the most important story is whether Tiger Woods can move up a gear after his rather lack-lustre performance in the Bridgestone WGC event – and then there is the Steve Williams saga, which doesn’t seem to go away. Woods’ former caddie managed to keep a reasonably low profile while carrying Woods’ bag to umpteen victories, until the Kiwi made a few ill-considered comments in public regarding what his boss thought about Phil Mickelson. That blew over with the expected apologies proffered, but when Woods recently fired Williams (according to the caddie this was done via telephone), it became clear that there was no love lost between the two, and when Adam Scott won last weekend with his bag being carried by the New Zealander, Williams decided to rub it in by declaring that this was the “greatest week of my life”, discounting the 13 majors he won while on Woods’ bag. Scott wisely avoided becoming involved in the “he-said-she-said” mud-slinging, but it is interesting that the Australian has Woods’ old swing, employs Woods’ former coach, and now has Woods’ cast-off caddie.
Should Woods fail to recapture the form that made him the best player in the world for the best part of a decade, there is now a large squad of players who have proven that they are willing and able to dominate the sport, and besides the current major champions, there has to be a least a dozen in what could be called golf’s Premier League, and besides the obvious names like Charl Schwartzel, Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood, Jason Day has convinced us that he has the game and the confidence to win one of golf’s ‘big ones’ very soon.
Whoever lifts the Wannamaker trophy in Atlanta, (psychically the biggest trophy if not the most prestigious in world golf), will know that they have joined a very exclusive club, and that their coveted invitation to Sun City will be in the post.