Gary Player: Ernie will lead the Internationals to Presidents Cup Glory

WHAT a wonderful climax to the European Tour 2019 season we were treated to last month. Tommy Fleetwood led the way with a spectacular come-from-behind performance in the Nedbank Golf Challenge (hosted by Gary Player) at Sun City.

It was Tommy’s first victory for 22 months as he parred the first play-off hole to defeat Marcus Kinhult, who made a bogey.

Tommy is a great favourite wherever he plays, and he was certainly a popular winner. He was smiling from ear to ear when he was presented with the trophy, which is understandable, considering he was also carrying off US$2.3million in prizemoney.

Tommy became even more fortunate the following week when he finished runner-up to Jon Rahm at the DP World Tour Championship, earning $800,000 for his result in the tournament and a further $1,200,000 for finishing second in the Race to Dubai.

In addition to the action by the best of the European Tour stars at Sun City, we also had a hugely successful Gary Player Invitational which was supported by so many sponsors and helped raise money for an incredibly worthy cause – The Player Foundation.

Stick my neck out

As far as the Presidents Cup goes, I’m going to stick my neck out and predict that the International Team will beat the United States, against all the odds.

Travelling to Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia will not suit the Americans, being just a couple of weeks before Christmas and having to handle the time difference and long-haul flight. Ernie Els will make the ideal Captain and I think it was a good idea to hand Ernie the job – he was a natural choice for everyone involved.

Little tournament golf

He’ll be facing up to Tiger Woods, who decided to become the USA playing captain. Many people took the view that Tiger would be taking a gamble in playing in the event, having played relatively little tournament golf since winning the Masters.

He will certainly be welcomed by both sides but if he is carrying any injuries it could be a risky decision to take.

Personally, I believe Tiger must be well aware of his fitness levels to be sure that he is capable of leading his side from the front for the week of the tournament. He’ll be a big attraction at Royal Melbourne.

Father and Son Challenge

Before the action gets underway down under later this week, I played in this year’s PNC Father and Son Challenge in Florida with my grandson, James Throssell. Also teeing it up was my great friend Jack Nicklaus and it was great to spend some time with him during the week.

I hadn’t played the event since 2002 and I have missed it. My decision to return was more than just about the golf. I have made a lot of friends in this game over the years and the chance to compete against some of the best players in history is something I had to do again. Playing with my grandson is always a pleasure and that’s what makes this event so special.

Giving disabled golfers a platform

I was pleased to see that the inaugural EDGA Dubai Finale, played over two days during the DP World Tour Championship was such a huge success.

The leading eight players from around the world took part in the 36-hole event and I wish the EDGA the best of luck for the future. Any time you can help disabled sportsmen and women to compete in their sport has to be applauded.

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