ZIMBABWE golf star Scott Vincent will tee up in the same field as former world number one Rory McIlroy when he competes in the prestigious BMW South Africa Open Championship which gets underway from next Thursday in Johannesburg, South Africa.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Fresh from a superb maiden season on the Asian Tour, Vincent will qualify automatically for the European Tour event at Glendower Golf Club, which also features major winners such as Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Sir Nick Faldo.
The 24-year-old was last month named Asian Tour’s Rookie of the Year after an impressive season in Asia and will be eager to continue that good run of form in the world’s second oldest national open championship, which has in the past proven to be a springboard for a number of players.
The South Africa Open Championship will also present an opportunity for Vincent to rub shoulders with one of the leading names in world golf, McIlroy, who spent 95 weeks at number one on the official world golf rankings, the fourth-longest period at the summit of the list.
McIlroy is currently ranked number three in the world and his participation in the upcoming 106th SA Open will give South African golf fans the opportunity to see one of the great modern players in action.
The Northern Irishman will play in South Africa for the second time after accepting an invitation from Els, who is the player-host of the second oldest national open championship in world golf.
“We are delighted that Rory will play in the SA Open,” said Sunshine Tour executive director Selwyn Nathan recently. “His presence adds even more value to the tournament for our generous hosts, the City of Ekurhuleni, and our title sponsor BMW South Africa.”
Vincent is one of three Zimbabwean players who will qualify automatically for the South Africa Open together with the in-form Mark Williams and Marc Cayeux.
Thirty-two-year-old Williams finished as the highest placed Zimbabwean golfer on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit standings with seven top 10 finishes including his maiden victory at the Vodacom Origins of Golf Final at St Francis Links in November.
Cayeux — a nine-time winner on the Sunshine Tour — also secured a place in the field by virtue of a medical exemption as he continues to recover from injuries sustained from a horrific car accident in Zimbabwe in 2010.
Meanwhile, eight other Zimbabwean golfers — Ryan Cairns, Greg Bentley, Robson Saurombe, Mohammad Mandhu, Kayyman Mandhu, Dean Nysschen, Sheldon Steyn and William Lake — will feature in the South Africa Open pre-qualifiers which get underway tomorrow in Johannesburg.