Zim Open tees off

HARARE - The 26th edition of the Zimbabwe Open tees off at Royal Harare Golf Club this morning with a field of 156 golfers hoping to have their hands on the trophy at the weekend.

Once again, Zimbabwean golfers will be hoping to end the dominance of their South African counterparts, who have won this Sunshine Tour-sanctioned event in the past seven years since its return in 2010.

The last Zimbabwean to win this tournament was Mark McNulty back in 2000 and since then the locals have struggled to shine on home soil.

Marc Cayeux is the local who came closest to winning Zimbabwe’s premier golf tournament when he finished third in 2010.

However, Cayeux’s career was greatly interrupted following a horrific road accident in 2011 which left him needing at least 27 surgeries and five years of rehabilitation in order to walk again.

Scott Vincent, who is now playing on the Asian Tour, finished fifth last year four shots behind eventual winner Lyle Rowe of South Africa.

Rowe is in the country as he hopes to defend his title together with three other former winners namely Theunis Spangeberg, Chris Swanepoel and Jake Roos.

This year, Zimbabwe will be pinning their hopes on the likes of Ryan Cairns, Greg Bentley, Cayeux, Mark Williams and Nyasha Muyambo.

The other local professional teeing off this morning are Tongo Charamba, Brian Gondo, Lyford Yadyo, Gary Thompson, Anywhere Katembenuka, Julius Kamalizeni.

Leading local amateur David Amm hopes to continue with the same form that saw him make the cut at last year’s tournament.

“My game is feeling good and I have been playing well in the last few weeks,” Amm told the Daily News.

“It will also be nice to play all the four rounds of the tournament by making the cut this year. Obviously, I want to play well and hopefully win the trophy for the best amateur this year.”

For the first round, Amm has been paired together with Rowe and Sweden’s Jonathan Agren, who had seven top 10 finishes on the Sunshine Tour last year.

“It will be cool to play with the defending champion. Obviously, he is a great player and I’m looking forward to the experience I’m going to get as well as the exposure that comes with playing with the defending champion,” Amm said.

“Like I said before, my game is feeling great at the moment and hopefully it’s going to be a good round for me.”

Meanwhile, Rowe is hoping to get his 2017 season off to a flyer by defending his Zimbabwe Open title this weekend.

“A long break is a bit of a problem,” Rowe, who last played a competitive round at the Tshwane Open on March 5, told the Sunshine Tour website.

“You get a bit… not complacent, but you get a bit bored in terms of practicing and playing. Sometimes you can get into a bad rut, but you’ve just got to keep doing what you think is good for your preparation.”

Rowe, who won the Zambia Sugar Open in 2014, relishes the Sunshine Tour tournaments played outside South Africa.

“I seem to enjoy these tournaments on the ‘African swing’,” Rowe said. “It’s just the whole feeling of the events, the way that they’re run and the people who come and support them – it’s nice having people to come and watch and it’s nice to play well in front of them.”

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