Lee Westwood and major winners Padraig Harrington, Louis Oosthuizen, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen will line up for Africa’s biggest prize at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in December.
Ryder Cup winners Miguel Angel Jimenez, Ross Fisher and Edoardo Molinari are also part of the 12-player field named by organizers Thursday for the $5 million invitational tournament at Sun City casino resort.
Defending champion Robert Allenby, Anders Hansen, Justin Rose and Tim Clark complete the entry list chasing the $1.25 million first prize.
“We were always hopeful that we could secure the participation of the very best players for what is a very special tournament, and I am pleased to say that we have achieved this,” Tournament Director Alastair Roper said. “We can never hope to make accurate predictions, but judging by the form shown by our invitees this year it is fair to assume that we can look forward to a thrilling contest.”
However, Roper added the lack of top U.S. players for the Dec. 2-5 event is “unfortunate,” with Tiger Woods hosting the Chevron World Challenge at Thousand Oaks, Calif. on the same weekend.
Jim Furyk is set to defend his title at the Chevron World Challenge and Phil Mickelson has committed to a tournament in Japan.
Westwood, who is close to overtaking Woods atop the world rankings, will lead the field at the Gary Player Country Club at the luxury resort in South Africa’s North West province. Roper called the Englishman’s acceptance of the invitation “most pleasing.”
Els, a three-time winner who beat Westwood in a playoff at Sun City in 2000, makes his first appearance since 2007. The South African showed a return to form with victory at the PGA Tour’s Grand Slam of Golf on Wednesday. His last Nedbank title was in 2002.
Allenby and Hansen were included as defending champion and South Africa’s Sunshine Tour order of merit winner respectively.
The Nedbank celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2010. Dubbed ‘Africa’s major,’ the tournament has increased its purse from $4.385 million in 2009, with the winner’s share up from $1.2 million.
“To put this amount into perspective, only the major championships and World Golf Championship events have a larger first prize, and then only marginally,” Roper said.