At Sun City for my 18th Nedbank Golf Challenge
After returning from the HSBC Champions in Shanghai we spent a couple of quiet weeks in Florida before flying over to South Africa for our customary vacation in our house down by the ocean - probably my favourite spot in the world. The main focus has been fitness, friends and family time. In other words pretty much just what the doctor ordered, as they say.
Last month we also received exciting news that the Els for Autism Foundation has closed on the purchase of a 26-acre piece of land in the Limestone Creek Community, located in Palm Beach County, for the building of the proposed Els Center of Excellence. This brings us one step closer to seeing our dream become a reality, a dream that could not have been realized without the amazing support of our friends and donors.
The Center will be a very special building for very special people and will not only be a game changer for the children in our community but also a hub for our global outreach programs, ensuring that the positive influence of the Center is felt far beyond the boundaries of its walls. Please click here for more information.
So moving on, this Monday we took the plane up to Sun City to get ready for this week's Nedbank Golf Challenge. The family is with me this week, including my mum and dad, which for me was part of the attraction of playing here this year. Well, that and the fact that it's just a great week. Tournament Director Alastair Roper and the rest of the guys do an amazing job here and I'm glad to be back for my 18th appearance in this special event. The field looks the strongest it's been for quite a few years.
Looking back since my debut in 1992, this tournament definitely holds some wonderful memories for me and for my whole family. Golf-wise, the highlight was the period from 1999 to 2002, where I won the tournament three times (pictured right) and in the other year finished second in a playoff. My combined aggregate score for those four years was 86-under par. That was a good little stretch right there!
Maybe the third win in 2002 stands a little bit above the rest because that final round 63 is still to this day one of the best rounds of my life. It was one of those beautiful golfing days where you see every shot crystal-clear in your mind's eye, you're relaxed, you have control of the golf ball and the hole looks twice its normal size. Trust me you don't forget those rounds. Anyway, here are those Nedbank facts and figures that the team sent me a while back. This tournament certainly has been good to me.
- This will be a record 18th appearance for Ernie in the Nedbank Golf Challenge, more than any other player in the history of the event (the next best is Bernhard Langer, 14 appearances)
- Ernie made his debut as a 23-year old in 1992
- Ernie has won the Nedbank Golf Challenge on three occasions (1999, 2000 & 2002). Two other players have also won three Nedbank titles (Nick Price and David Frost)
- Ernie has finished second on four occasions and third on two occasions
- Ernie holds the Nedbank scoring record (25-under par in 1999) and has shot the most sub-par rounds (46)
- Ernie's lowest round in the Nedbank is 63 (2002)
- He is also the tournament's leading all-time money winner ($7,971,000)
The goal this week is to add a few more nice numbers to that list! Let's see how we go.