Cairns' leap of faith

HARARE - Ryan Cairns, part of a new generation of Zimbabwean golfers angling for a move up the world golfing map, has described his relocation to the United States in pursuit of a US PGA Tour card as his leap of faith.

The 29-year-old from Harare will next week launch his quest when he takes part at the 2014 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Qualifying tournament in Peru.

“I've now decided, as I am heading into what is known as the prime golfing years for professionals, to take a leap of faith and move my career to the United States in pursuit of my goal to fly another Zimbabwean flag on the US PGA Tour,” Cairns told the Daily News from his base in North Carolina yesterday.

“This Tour (2014 PGA Tour Latinoamérica) has recently bought-out both the Latino America Tour and the Canadian Tour, rebranding them with the US PGA Tour's image and of course their marketing, television coverage etc. They are using these two tours as 'feeder tours' into the PGA Tour system with the top five of each money list being promoted onto the web.com Tour which is then just one step away from the big stage of the US PGA Tour.

“The first event I am playing in is the PGA Tour Latino America Qualifying Tournament in Peru (to be played between January 14 and 17). I am actually currently about to board a plane to Lima as I talk to you.”

Cairns, who previously played fulltime on the Sunshine Tour, says he still has great affinity for southern Africa’s premier professional tour and will return to the continent this year in-between his US commitments.  

One of the Sunshine Tour events he is keen on is his home tournament, the Zimbabwe Open, set for April at its traditional home, Royal Harare.

“Following this event, I will be playing six events on the Sunshine Tour in South Africa as I am in a position to qualify for the Investec Cup points race which carries a bonus pool prize fund for the Top 30 players on the Sunshine Tour,” he said.

“I am currently in 31st position and feeling good about my game heading into that final stretch of events. There would then be no better way for my Sunshine Tour Summer schedule to end than playing in the Zimbabwe Open in April which I will be committing to as soon as the entries open. The PGA Tour of Canada will then be my next stop for their qualifying tournament in Vancouver during the first week of May. All going well at both qualifying tournaments this year, I will then be playing in-between Canada and South America with the goal of finishing top five and being promoted into the American system at the end of the season.”

Despite his abundant promise, funding has remained elusive for Cairns, who has had to dig deep into his own pocket to pursue his dream.

“I also hope to play in a few Monday Qualifiers which are held during the week of each US PGA Tour event as well as of course teeing it up in the sectional qualifying for the US Open to be held at Pinehurst in June. As you can imagine, all of this traveling comes at a cost which I am currently taking on alone.

“Going forward this year there are opportunities for local corporate sponsors to alleviate some of my traveling costs which would be a huge help in getting me closer to flying our flag on the world stage alongside (fellow Zimbabwean) Brendon De Jonge. There is a trust account open and board of directors in place to handle all finances in Zimbabwe and any queries can be made by either emailing me directly (ryan@cairnzy.com) or speaking to Louise Ward in the office at Royal Harare Golf Club, who will be able to put any potential sponsors in touch with this board of trustees. My total travel budget for all the events in Canada, South America and the United States in 2014 is $60, 000 and of course the branding of my golf bag, cap and shirt would be part of negotiations if the right sponsor comes forward.”

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