Nelson Mandela Championship to start 2013 European Tour
A new event has been announced that will be teeing off in Durban, South Africa, just 11 days after Rory McIlroy’s victory in the Race to Dubai.
The year ended superbly for McIlroy, with the young Northern Irishman driving the ball far for a week of enthralling performances.
The inaugural event has been named after South Africa’s most noted premier and political hero, who was at the forefront of the movement against apartheid: Nelson Mandela.
The Nelson Mandela Championship is set to be the first event of the latest European Tour season with the following six events of the tour also concentrated in the same country.
Besides McIlroy, the most noted player who will be teeing off in the event is South Africa’s Branden Grace.
Grace did not really have the year McIlroy had been having, in terms of utter golfing dominance, and he expects this season to be a repeat of the last.
The George-based South African admits to getting more credit for his 2012 performance than was due, adding that “with that comes pressure and responsibility.”
His singular most spectacular feat for season ’12 is finishing sixth on the money-list. He had won his card for the event earlier the same year, courtesy four title wins.
"Whether you're the favorite or the underdog, I think I've proved this year that anything can happen," said Grace.
Grace coincidentally shares his birthday with the iconic Mandela. The 26-year-old said in a private function elsewhere that he will use that as inspiration for rigorous play.
He expects to reignite his extraordinary feats of the previous season with a win at the start of the year.
"This year I will be more focused on the majors. It's starting all over again, same as this year - getting the first win and moving from there".
John Parry of England also hopes to rekindle hopes for a fabulous European Tour this year. He has come freshly minted from a win at the Qualifying School Final Stage in Spain, having qualified for his card in what was a sensational round of golfing at Girona.
Besides Grace and Parry, not many big names will make an appearance at the season-starter.
With the Mandela Championship and the Tshwane Open, added this season, along with the retention of the Volvo Golf Championships, this is the most tournaments the continent has seen at once thus far.
Banking on the success of these in-a-row tournaments, certain South African organizers hope to introduce the $8.5 million Tournament of Hope by the end of 2013.
The Tournament of Hope, coupled with the four events in the World Golf Championship, is destined to be the second-richest tournament in all of golf, just trailing the esteemed Players Championship.
Play will begin at the PGA Catalunya Resort, Thursday morning.