Follet-Smith wins Harare Open title

HARARE - Benjamin Follett-Smith needed to keep his nerves and make a difficult chip on the 18th to save par on his way to clinching his second local title after winning the Harare Open golf tournament here yesterday.

With the wind causing all sorts of problems for the golfers, Follett-Smith overcooked his approach from the fairway and hit the staircase at the Chapman clubhouse.

Luckily for the 21-year-old, the golf ball ricocheted back onto the course but still landed on the edge of one of the bunkers that protects the 18th green.

At that point, he was one shot ahead of first round leader amateur Jack Allard and Tonderai Musunga and a bogey would have sent the tournament into a three-way play-off.

Follett-Smith produced a wonderful chip that landed on the green and left him only with an easy putt for par.

In the end, Follett-Smith finished the tournament on three-under 141 while Allard and Musunga were both on two-under 142.

“Today (yesterday), I think it was a bit more windy than yesterday; I struggled, my golf wasn’t as good but I really found it more windy,” Follett-Smith, who pocketed $3 025.75 for his win, said of the elements.

“Overall,it was good to play in such wind; we don’t normally play in such conditions and it’s nice to get some experience.”   

On his whole tournament, he said: “The first round went pretty much the way I had planned it but unfortunately, I didn’t play my best golf throughout the week.

“Overall, I managed to win by one shot which is why we are here, to win matches but I would like to play a bit better which is why I’m going to practice so that I can get better for next week.”

After the first round in which he had scored a two-under 70, Follett-Smith, who turned pro last year, thought he needed a better second round to win the title. “I didn’t think three-under would be enough, I was thinking five-under or four-under maybe; but I take anything that would give me the win at the end of the day,” he said.

“We are not playing for anything like the US Open but a win is a win; It’s good for confidence especially going into next week.”

The Harare Open made a return on the Zimbabwe Professional Golfers Association calendar after a three-year hiatus.

Harare City Council (HCC) were the main sponsors of the event after providing a purse of $20 000.

The council is looking at using golf to market the capital city according HCC spokesperson Michael Chideme.

“Harare City is back in golf; ...we are now back prominently because we realise the important role golf plays in marketing our city,” Chideme said.

“We are here to last and next year, we are going to make it even bigger than this and as a city, we are also going to sponsor junior golf.”