Nice guy Bernd Wiesberger is set make the likes of Jon Rahm and Shane Lowry feel most uncomfortable over the next four days by their decision not to contest last week’s European Tour penultimate season Nedbank Challenge.
The Austrian and current European No. 1 made a late-minute move following indifferent showings at both the WGC – HSBC Champions and the following week’s Turkish Airlines Open to jump aboard a charter flight departing Turkey and bound for Johannesburg.
Wiesberger revealed he had been in two minds to make the flight but it was a decision to reap dividends with the 34-year old going within one shot of the lead with four holes to play before a 72nd hole double-bogey denied him of a hopeful fourth Tour win this year on route to sharing third place at Sun City.
Wiesberger’s effort extended his lead in the Race to Dubai and in the process earned him enough Race to Dubai points to at least ensure the current No. 5 ranked Rory McIlroy cannot become European Tour No. 1.
McIlroy had been fifth on the Race to Dubai but was bumped back to No. 6 ahead this week’s final Tour event in Dubai with McIlroy trailing 2,037 Race to Dubai points adrift of the Austrian and the winner in Dubai securing 2,000 points.
Furthermore, with Tommy Fleetwood ending a 22-month winless drought in South Africa, the Englishman leap-frogged not only McIlroy but the absent Rahm and Lowry to move into second place behind Wiesberger and push Rahm to No. 3 and Lowry to No. 4 – making Lowry’s task a little harder in ending his Major-winning season as Europe’s top-ranked player.
“We asked ourselves the question late in Turkey, if it was worth going to the Nedbank as I’m trying to make plans as best as possible for my performance on the golf course,” said Wiesberger.
“But coming off two weeks out in China and Turkey where I felt like my game wasn’t quite there and I wasn’t quite there in the right mental state, I got a little bit frustrated.
“I knew the Nedbank was going to be a golf course that’s challenging mentally, as much as it is playing-wise. I was a bit, you know, not worried, but uncertain of how damaging it could be if you had another off-week in a way.
“My main goal for that week was to be accepting of any outcome out there, because there are really loads of scenarios up in that altitude with those winds and the golf course.
“And after coming back from two sloppy weeks, I did really did well so it was very pleasing.
“I’m very, very happy that we ended up going there and had a good week.”
It prompted the Vienna golfer to be asked if he was surprised that either Rahm and/or Lowry chose not to travel to Sun City.
“I suppose every individual has to go for their ideal scheduling and while we laid out our plan, so did Shane lay out his plan and Jon laid out his plan,” said Wiesberger.
“It’s an individual thing. For some, it works. Some obviously played a couple tournaments more in Asia and needed to have a rest before this week.
“Me personally, I thought the Nedbank deserved a bit stronger field from the top of The Race to Dubai, but in the end, everybody has to make their own choices on scheduling.”
IRISH TEE TIMES – DP WORLD TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP, DUBAI (Irish Time – Thursday)
Rory McIlroy – 8.20am
Shane Lowry – 8.30am
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