Ahlers will fill the 30th and final place in the elite field following his thrilling weekend playoff victory in the Cape Town Open. Even if he finishes last at the Gary Player Country Club, he will earn $100 000, a massive windfall for someone whose career earnings on the Sunshine Tour are just over R4 million.
Ahlers’ triumph – he beat compatriot Hennie Otto and Englishman Ross McGowan in the playoff – takes the number of South Africans in the Sun City field to seven, with Charl Schwartzel, Dawie van der Walt, Danie van Tonder, Louis Oosthuizen, George Coetzee and Tim Clark also teeing it up.
Fans will be able to enjoy the presence of three former champions in the field: Thomas Bjorn, Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood, the winners of the last four tournaments dating back to 2010.
Five of the triumphant European Ryder Cup team will be present – the three former champions plus Jamie Donaldson and Stephen Gallacher.
“This is obviously life-changing for me. I turned 32 last week, but right now, I feel about 40 years old. But it’s a happy 40 years because now I’m going to Sun City. What a birthday present! That is a lifelong dream come true,” Ahlers said after his victory at Royal Cape Golf Club.
There would have been eight South Africans in the Nedbank Golf Challenge field but for Ernie Els suffering from a troublesome right hip niggle, which he has decided to rest over the festive season.