The format change for the 2013 Nedbank Golf Challenge marks one of the most significant changes in the history of a tournament that since 1981 has positioned itself at the forefront of world golf.
The inaugural Nedbank Golf Challenge ushered in golf’s first million-dollar purse to be contested by only five players.
The winner, Johnny Miller, received $500 000. It was an exorbitant amount considering that, at the time, Tom Watson held the money-earning record for a season on the PGA Tour of $530 000.
The tournament grew from an initial five-man field to 10 in the early Eighties and with sizable payouts down to even the last-place finisher.
In 1987, the event raised the bar again when Ian Woosnam won the first winner-takes-all $1-million cheque for his victory at Sun City that year.
In 2000, the tournament went through another major restructuring of its prize money when it celebrated the new millennium by offering a $2-million first prize to the winner. Ernie Els took the title that year after a playoff with Lee Westwood.
The 2003 Nedbank Golf Challenge capitalised on a wealth of international players in South Africa for the Presidents Cup that year and expanded the field to 18 players. First place that year was worth $1.2-million.
In 2004, the field reverted to a 12-man format, and the next few years saw a heavier weighting of the prize money for second and third place as well as last place to the point that the runner up in 2012 received $660 000.
The 2006 tournament offered official world ranking points for the first time. And now in 2013 the Nedbank Golf Challenge has entered a new era in which it forms part of the European Tour’s international schedule, drawing its field from world rankings and top finishers on international tours including the PGA Tour, European Tour, Sunshine Tour, PGA Tour of Australasia, Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour.
The field has been increased to 30 players who will now compete for a total of $6.5-million. This is an increase of $1.5 million on the total 2012 prize money. But the first place cheque will remain $1.25 million, and last place will be worth $100 000.
This makes the Nedbank Golf Challenge amongst the most lucrative tournaments on both the PGA Tour and European Tour, and certainly the richest tournament on the Sunshine Tour. The golfers will also be awarded Official World Golf Ranking points as well as Ryder Cup points.
Since 1981 the Nedbank Golf Challenge has consistently attracted the biggest names in golf. Such has been the strength in depth of its fields that even the last-place finishers have won a combined 54 Majors, and seven of them have been world number one. “The Nedbank Golf Challenge has gone through many eras and evolutions, and always we have sought to maintain its position as one of the premier tournaments in world golf,” says Alastair Roper, the Tournament Director of the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
“This new era continues our philosophy of meeting the growing demands of the game and providing a spectacle that thrills both the players and the fans.”