Big-hitting Spaniard in line for Nedbank Challenge

12 October 2017 - 16:40 By Liam Del Carme‚ At Sun City
Jon Rahm of Spain reacts on the 18th green during the final round of the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club on September 24, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Jon Rahm of Spain reacts on the 18th green during the final round of the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club on September 24, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Image: Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images/AFP

Big-hitting Jon Rahm could be one of the star attractions at next month’s Nedbank Golf Challenge (NGC) at Sun City.

Rahm‚ currently ranked third behind Tommy Fleetwood and Sergio Garcia‚ is hoping to mount a strong finish in the Race to Dubai and he may need an impressive showing at the Gary Player Country Club (GPCC) if he hopes to reel in the pace-setting Englishman.

He currently trails Fleetwood by over a million points but is hoping to claw back some of that deficit in this week’s Italian Open.

Rahm revealed after triumphing in the Irish Open that winning the Race to Dubai is a major priority for him in his first full season on the European Tour.

The 22-year old says he is inspired by the prospect of emulating his late compatriot Seve Ballesteros. The charismatic Ballesteros won at Sun City in 1983 and 1984.

Rahm will be a big drawcard if organisers can convince him to fly south. The rarefied air and the sheer length (7000m) of the GPCC will only enhance his impressive ball-striking.

The GPCC was in immaculate condition for this weeks’ course-closing final round but organisers are hoping for more rain in the weeks leading up the the event on November 9 to 12.

South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen and Brandon Stone have already confirmed their participation‚ as has defending champion Alex Noren.

Fellow Swede and former champion Henrik Stenson will also be in attendance.

This year the 2008 winner has not quite scaled the heights of last year when he won the Open. The 11-time European Tour winner‚ who topped the Race to Dubai rankings last year‚ is looking forward to the event.

“The NGC is a tournament that I always enjoy being part of. The GPCC is a fantastic place to play golf‚ and I’m looking forward to getting back to Sun City this year‚” Stenson said.

“I’ve won there before and have included the event in my schedule for the past few years‚ so it’s a course that I know well.

“We always get a brilliant reception from the South African fans‚ and I’m sure it will be another enjoyable event.”

Organisers are hoping to get a clearer picture of the stars likely to tee up at the GPCC.

This year’s event will be the seventh in the Rolex series and penultimate tournament in the Race to Dubai.

The tournament’s selection criteria makes provision for the top 64 players in the Race to Dubai as at the end of the Turkish Airlines Open‚ the defending champion‚ as well as the 2016 Sunshine Tour order of merit winner.

Six more invitations will be issued at the discretion of the organisers‚ but four had to be ranked inside the top 50 in the world as of September 25.

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