Durban – As Branden Grace handed the Crystal Trophy back to host Nedbar Golf Challenge Gary Player on a television ceremony on Tuesday, he whispered to the Player, "Let's hope we can keep it in South Africa again this week."
In the 37 previous releases of "Major Africa", South African players have won 14 times. However, Grace's win last year ended a 10-year gap between his triumph and the last South African winner in front of him, Trevor Immelman in 2007.
Having done so once, Grace would be the obvious choice to lead the 11 South Africans to keep the home trophy at the Gary Player Country Club this week.
"I'm very excited to be here, this is a difficult week of defense, it's never easy, but I've done it before I hope I'll do it again," said Grace.
Describing how she felt to win the "Marina of Africa" in 2017, Grace offered even more inspiration to her compatriots.
"The biggest event that won South Africa was great, and winning a tournament that you grew up watching, and you see some legendary names in the trophy – is great."
Charl Schwartzel, having finished second to Martin Kaymer in 2012, is surely sure what it would mean to win this week.
"Obviously as South Africa, this tournament is very close to us, it's the first tournament I've come to watch live on and watch my heroes play, and it's always good to come back here.
And South African colleague Erik van Rooyen fulfills a childhood dream as he makes his debut at this week's Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player.
"It's a tournament I always wanted to play as a kid and I came here many times with the family to watch it's a privilege to be here." The golf course is a paradise of the ball, really, you have long holes and small grasses. my game is really on the brink.