Golfers give Hwange long rope

HARARE - Local golfers, yet to receive full payments for their winnings at last year’s Hwange Open, are not holding anything against the ailing coal giant struggling to stay afloat in this tough economic environment.

Financial constrains at the troubled coal miner have seen this year’s tournament, played over last weekend, being restricted to amateurs.

“Good news (is) they have honoured the first part of the pledge and we are very thankful to them under extreme difficulties,” said Zimbabwe Professional Golfers Association (ZPGA) president Gary Thompson.

Ironically, the television personality was the one who clinched last year’s golf championship when he fired a total four-under-par 212 following rounds of 70, 72 and 70.

Thompson, who was in his maiden season after turning pro, finished two shots ahead of Stephen Ferreira and amateur Robson Chinhoi.

He should have pocked $3 000 for the win but a year down the line, he is yet to receive full payment.

“As the ZPGA, we have given a full blessing and endorsement for them to continue with the smaller tournament this year. The small balance outstanding can be settled later as they promised,” Thompson said.

The coal-mining concern — which reported a $115 million loss in 2015 alone— has been a shadow of its former self with workers going for over 18 months without salaries.

Meanwhile, ZPGA yesterday showered praise on its affiliate members who have been punching above their weight on the greens of foreign shores.

Last weekend, Mark Williams cruised to a two-stroke victory in the R750 000 Vodacom Origins of Golf Final at St Francis Links in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

Scott Vincent found the going tough at the richest golf tournament in the Philippines over the weekend where he tied for 48 after carding eight under par 280.

After experiencing the euphoria of a tied second finish in Korea last month, Vincent seemed to be on course for his first Asian Tour win after firing a fiery opening round 66 which he followed up with a 68.

“Scotty is doing amazing things in East Asia in his rookie year and will undoubtedly rise to number one in the world rankings for Zimbabwe we are predicting,” Thompson said.

“On top of that, Ferreira has had great finishes ninth and fourth respectively over the last three weeks on the Sunshine Tour and he's our number one order of merit player.”

Locally tournaments have been few and far between.

“We do believe there are tournaments coming but as golfers we understand the extreme pressure the corporates are under,” Thompson said.

“However, our executive is showcasing absolute integrity with finance and administration and for any corporate wanting to upgrade their golf day, pros will take it to a new level.

“Just look at William Lake shooting 67 at Zimtrade pro-am to win by one shot . . . This shows you what can happen when our players are given the chance to complete. Lastly, you’re only as good as you are under pressure.

“So there must be more pressurised environments. That’s called a professional tour. That’s why you’ll see more performance upgrades in the Zimbabwe open with more pre-tournaments as the players take the talent to the course under real conditions.”

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