SOARING hot weather was the order of the week at the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
But for the organisers it was a relief because last year had to contend with intermittent rain, thus had to reschedule the playing programme.
With African dream drumming in his head, the 2023 Nedbank Golf Challenge champ medal went to Max Homa, an American.
Homa closed with a 66 at the Gary Player Country Club that included a memorable eagle on the ninth to win by four shots on 19 under par. It was the first victory by an American in this tournament since Jim Furyk in 2006, and it capped what Homa described as a life-changing first visit to Africa.
He started strong and was three under through eight holes. Despite this he still had to withstand a strong charge from Denmark’s Thorbjørn Olesen, and the key moment came on the iconic par-five ninth hole.
When the sun rises in Africa, you want to be the Lion rather than the Impala. That’s what Homa kept telling himself in the final round of where he played like a lion to win ‘Africa’s Major’ at Sun City on Sunday.
“Back home I’m fortunate to get a lot of great support. But I just can’t really get over that I can come across the world to people I’ve never met and they can be this kind and welcoming. I had these kids following me all day and they kept boosting me whenever it got tight and they kept cheering my name.
I also had the mantra of rather be the lion than the impala in my head. And walking up 18 and that ovation was extra special. I just have to give so much credit to this country and the quality of the people,” said Homa.
“I walked down that walkway to the ninth green today again and I pictured a plaque with my name on it alongside all the other greats there. It’s awesome to add my name to that. This is one of the more memorable weeks I’ve ever had. The safari we had last weekend – I just can’t put it into words. Then to come out here and put the cherry on top is fantastic.
I’m excited to get home and see my son. I left when he had two teeth and now he’s got six.”
And as he flies home with a cheque for just over one million dollars, that’s the tooth fairy taken care of as well.
Thousands of spectators, including one of the title sponsors’ Emirates Airlines- Africa regional manager representative Afzal Parambil, and Jono Leaf- Wright, CEO at DP Wanderers Stadium, came to witness another phenomenal display of golf and African safari that Sun City and Pilanesberg resort, both are synonymous with.
One could easily murmur ‘from Max the Gorilla to Max the African’.
Image supplied (2023 NGC winner Max Homa, airborne and lifting his cup aloft on Sunday at Sun City).