The Zimbabwe junior golf team is hoping for better fortunes when they face the world’s best golfing countries at the 2015 Toyota Junior Golf World Cup that tees off next month.
BY Munyaradzi Madzokere
Chukyo Golf Club in Toyota, Japan plays host to the global event which is slated for June 16 to 19.
The 23rd edition of the event will bring together the best junior golfers from 16 countries around the globe to compete against each other in a team format.
Bulawayo Golf Club’s Jack Allard captains the team, which is set to leave the country on June 11, which also comprises Kieran Vincent, Justin Kersten and 15-year-old prodigy David Amm.
Last year the local team which appeared fairly strong on paper endured a torrid time at the tournament, finishing last out of 14 countries that competed and 19 strokes behind their nearest rivals Argentina.
This time around with two players, Vincent and Justin returning to the competition for the second consecutive year, the team believe they will have a record breaking top six finish.
“We finished last in last year’s tournament. Firstly, we were on unfamiliar territory as we had not played in that tournament for about nine years. We also had very little time to practise as the confirmation for our participation only came a few weeks before the tournament,” said Zimbabwe Junior Golf Association (ZJGA) president Brian Maphosa, who will also be the head of delegation for the trip.
“As for our chances this time around, I am very confident we have the players that have what it takes to do well. The target is to achieve a position higher than seventh, set by the class of 1993 at the tournament,” added Maphosa.
He believes the current team is mature, confident, and is better prepared mentally, especially considering the way they have been dominating the local amatuer golf scene.
Captain Allard, a former Falcon College student, is a joint leader of the Zimbabwe Junior Golf National Order of Merit who recently won the 2015 Bulawayo Golf Club Championships.
He has won five of the eight national amateur and junior golf tournaments he has played this year, while he was fourth in the individual rankings at the All Africa Junior Golf Challenge played in Zambia recently.
Vincent, younger brother to US-based golf sensation Scott Vincent, shares the lead on the junior golf Order of Merit rankings. He has excelled internationally, finishing tied for sixth at the prestigious Junior Orange Bowl Championships 2014 in Florida, USA, as well as 15th at the American Junior last year.
Locally he has won a number of tournaments, including the Leopard Rock Junior, the Manicaland Championships, Zimbabwe Junior Stroke Play and the Zimbabwe Amateur Match play among others.
Kersten was the country’s representative at the British Junior Open 2014, while he tied on seventh at the Western Province tournament played in Cape Town and eighth at the Curro South African Juniors International.
Amm, who is the youngest ever player at the Zimbabwe Open 2014 at the age of 14, is incredibly tipped to become the next big name for Zimbabwe in professional golf. He was third at the recent Roland Park Open locally, third at the recent Zone VI amateurs played in Kampala, Uganda as well as eighth at the All Africa Junior Golf Challenge 2015 in Lusaka, Zambia.
The team will be coached by Simon Murungweni while Bheki Ndhlovu is the non-travelling reserve.