Westwood relishes battle with returning Donald
Three of the world's top four will contest the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City this week, with a first prize of almost £800,000 up for grabs.
World number three Lee Westwood is the defending champion after his commanding eight-shot victory last year, but he faces tough competition from world number one Luke Donald and number four Martin Kaymer.
Donald has already won the money list on the US PGA Tour and looks certain to top the European Tour's Race to Dubai, making him the first player to achieve such a double.
The Englishman has not played for five weeks, during which time he experienced the death of his father and birth of his second daughter.
That prompted speculation that the 33-year-old might not play again this season, but he told reporters yesterday: “I'm in the best form of my life, had a great year, a great 18 months, and am looking forward to the challenge.
“This is always one of the best tournaments of the year.
“Lee (Westwood) played extremely well here last year and won by a number of shots. It's always exciting to go up against him and we've had some good head-to-heads, although I went one up on him at Wentworth (winning a play-off for the BMW PGA Championship).
“He's got the better of me too, so it's a friendly rivalry. There are also world ranking points on offer here, so it's a good opportunity which I'll try my best to take.”
Westwood added: “It's a great course, a great field and a great spot. It's a very important tournament because a good week here can kick things off for you, especially in terms of confidence.
“Everyone remembers who wins at Sun City and it's nice to be back as defending champion and having played so well last year.”
Masters champion Charl Schwartzel will be aiming to give the home crowd something to cheer when he tees off with Italy's Francesco Molinari, the Ryder Cup star has replaced the injured Thomas Bjorn in the 12-man field.
“I have found quite a lot of confidence in my achievements,” Schwartzel said. “This is one of the first events that I came to, the first tournament ever, and it would be quite a special thing for me if I can manage to win it.
“I don't feel any extra pressure on me as the only South African, there may be a little more expectation but it doesn't feel any different than any other tournament.
“But I would like to keep the flag flying high and it will be nice to have the crowd behind me.”