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Golf | SA

Rory McIlroy © Gallo Images

Africa's major has the trump cards - Roper



Despite Tiger Woods's tournament "The World Challenge" being back on, Nedbank Golf Challenge tournament director Alastair Roper says "Africa's Major" still may have some trump cards.

When the new 30-man field for the South African event was announced, it seemed Woods's event would not be played at all due to a lack of sponsorship. It has since been reinstated, mainly due to a cash injection from Woods.

Both events start on December 5 and will compete to attract the world's best golfers.

"We may have some trump cards on them with Road to Dubai points and Ryder Cup standings points, official money on the Sunshine Tour and European Tour," said Roper on Wednesday.

"All of that, we're in a stronger position than what we were last year.

"It does mean we're going to lose one or two players but I think ultimately we'll be better off."

Roper was optimistic his event could still attract players such as Northern Irishman world-No 2 Rory McIlroy.

"I think McIlroy from what I understand is still intent on playing on both the European Tour's Road to Dubai and the PGA Tour and competing for the FedExCup like he did last year."

Roper said the two-time Major champion would hopefully look at the event at the Gary Player Country Club in Rustenburg and see it as a better opportunity.

"I think he'll have a look at it and identify the fact that Tiger's tournament doesn't offer him anything on the FedEXCup, whereas we do and he might see that as an opportunity. I think we still stand a chance with McIlroy."

Roper, however, did concede the two tournaments being staged at the same time would hinder the quality of the field for his event.

"It has been a problem the last seven or eight years. I'm surprised at the decision they've made. Obviously something must have happened in the US because I don't know.

"I saw the press releases and I'm not aware of why. It was supposed to be the first event on the new FedExCup in October. Falling on the same date has an impact. They offer world golf rankings, their selection criteria is slightly different, but still some players will be affected."

Current No 2 in the FedExCup standings, American Matt Kuchar, would be the kind of player to likely not consider the South African event, according to Roper.

"Guys like Matt Kuchar who's second in the FedExCup we'd love to have out here in South Africa.

"He's in the same stable as Tiger and one would assume he'd stick around and play in Tiger's event. There's a player, had the tournament not been up against us, we would have had a chance to get."

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