The Nedbank Golf Challenge Through the Decades
The Noughties and Twenty Tens
The Nedbank Golf Challenge celebrated the turn of the Century with a victory by Ernie Els in the 2000 edition of “Africa’s Major”.
Els successfully defended his title in a playoff with Lee Westwood, and won a record $2 million in first-place prize money that year.
A year later Els narrowly lost out to Sergio Garcia when the young Spaniard closed with a final round of 63 to tie Els, and then on the first playoff hole holed his chip on the par-three 16th to win.
But Els was back in the winner’s circle in 2002 as he claimed his third Nedbank Golf Challenge title with a crushing 8-stroke victory over Colin Montgomerie.
In 2003, Garcia beat another South African favourite, Retief Goosen, and did so again in a playoff to win his second Nedbank Golf Challenge.
And Goosen responded by claiming the 2004 Nedbank Golf Challenge in th same year he won his second US Open title.
The year 2005 marked the largest playoff in the history of the tournament, including Jim Furyk, Retief Goosen, Darren Clarke and Adam Scott. Playing the par-four 18th as the second playoff hole, Furyk chipped in for birdie to take the title.
A year later the affable American became one of only six players to have successfully defended their Nedbank Golf Challenge titles.
In 2007, a year before he won The Masters, Trevor Immelman beat Justin Rose by a single stroke to claim what was then one of the biggest victories of his career.
Henrik Stenson then emerged as one of the few men to truly understand the intricacies of the Gary Player Country Club when in 2008 he used his three wood to devastating effect, ultimately winning by nine shots.
In 2009, Robert Allenby became the first Australian winner of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, beating Stenson in a playoff.
Lee Westwood enjoyed a magnificent year in 2010 in which he claimed the world number one ranking from Tiger Woods and then ended it with an 8-stroke victory over Tim Clark in the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
Westwood defended his title in 2011, become the sixth player to do so, and to date the last to achieve this.
There was a German double at Sun City in 2012 as Martin Kaymer won the Nedbank Golf Challenge and Bernhard Langer won the senior tournament, the Nedbank Champions’ Challenge, that was played concurrently this year.
In 2013, Thomas Bjørn showed he is still a force to be reckoned with when he made an incredible eagle on the par-five 14th in the final round which carried him to a two-stroke victory.
Danny Willett then joined the list of english champions in this event with his victory in 2014, and in 2015 Marc Leishman’s birdie blitz in the final round gave him the edge over the field as he won by six strokes.
This was the decade when the Nedbank Golf Challenge became a full European Tour event and earned a place on the Tour’s prestigious Rolex Series of premier tournaments. It was a new era that began with Alex Noren’s 2016 victory at Sun City.
In 2017, Branden Grace became the first South African winner of the Nedbank Golf Challenge in a decade, with a final round of 66 earning him a 1-stroke victory.
And after 7 years, Lee Westwood added his name to the Crystal Trophy again in 2018 for the third time.
Ernie Els | 268
Sergio Garcia | 268
Ernie Els | 267
Sergio Garcia | 274
Retief Goosen | 281
Jim Furyk | 282
Jim Furyk | 276
Trevor Immelman | 272
Henrik Stenson | 267
Robert Allenby | 277
Lee Westwood | 271
Lee Westwood | 273
Martin Kaymer | 280
Thomas Bjørn | 268
Danny Willett | 270
Marc Leishman | 269
Alex Noren | 274
Branden Grace | 277
Lee Westwood | 273
Quote from the Noughties
“This is awesome. This is the one event that as a South African you want to win. It’s ‘Africa’s Major’ for a reason and what a special place it is. There’s a lot of history and a lot of great winners on the trophy and I’m very glad to be able to put my name on the trophy as well.” – Branden Grace.