Locals showing at Zim Open worrying

HARARE - Zimbabwean golfers’ performance at the just ended Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open where only four out of 31 locals made the cut has once again brought the state of golf into question.

South Africa’s Jbe’ Kruger won Zimbabwe’s premier golf tournament for a second time after posting 18-under-par 270 over the 72 holes stroke play championship.

But it was the locals’ dismal performance in their own backyard that left a lot to be desired.

Tournament director Mike Mahachi admitted it was worrying that only four golfers made the cut.

“We had great performances from Tongo Charamba. Scott Vincent’s six-under-par compared very well with the professionals,” Mahachi told the Daily News.

“However, we only had four players make the cut this time around. We obviously expected more.

“Last year we had nine players make the cut; the previous year we had seven so that is worrying. But it also demonstrates how strong the field was this year.”

Mahachi admitted the local golfers needed more tournaments to be able to compete well against their counterparts from South Africa who are always in action on the Sunshine Tour.

“Look, I’m sure we will produce a champion. We still have very solid guys sometimes they can’t just handle the bigger stage,” he said.

“Maybe they need more opportunities to play bigger events not necessarily our events maybe more Sunshine Tour events. One also has to look at how are our amateurs did.

“If we had more of Scott Vincents then we are looking at a bright future so we need to concentrate more at grassroots so that we are assured of solid professionals in the future.

“Golf is an individual game, you can have the best sponsorship but if you don’t put the work in it you won’t go far.”

Tongo Charamba was Zimbabwe’s highest placed golfer after closing off tied for 10th on nine-under-par 279 after posting a final round 72.

Vincent, who won the best amateur award, was Zimbabwe’s second highest placed golfer on six-under-par 282.

Ryan Cairns finished tied a distant 64 on a total of seven-over-par 295 whilst Ignatius Mteketeke closed off tied on position 69 with a total of nine-over-par 297.

Charamba, who was tied for 10th despite achieving his best finish at the tournament, said more funding was needed to arrest the free-falling standards of Zimbabwe golfers.

“Well, there is a lot that needs to be done for starters we need to play more tournaments locally. We need to get the guys grilled,” said Charamba, who is also the president of the Zimbabwe Professional Golfers’ Association.

“We need sponsorship to go out there and play more international tournaments. It helps in preparations and handling the pressure out there.

“It’s a totally different ball game when you play in such big events. The courses are set differently from what we are used to playing on.

“You only get this standard of golf courses when you go out there to play on the Sunshine Tour.

“That’s what we need. I hope the corporate world will come in and help local golfers to go out there and play,” Charamba said.

The last Zimbabwean to win the tournament was Nick McNulty back in 2000 and since then South African golfers have dominated the championship.

Marc Cayeux was the last Zimbabwean to come close to winning the tournament when he came third in 2010.

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