AS Thursday’s tee-off date for the 2018 Old Mutual Zimbabwe Open draws closer, the final slots in the star-studded field will be up for grabs during the tournament’s pre-qualifying round at the picturesque Royal Harare Golf Club tomorrow.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The pre-qualifier for the non-exempt players, which has attracted 60 entries, will be contested over 18 holes with a total of eight slots at stake for those hoping to make it into the 156-man field for the R1, 2 million Old Mutual Zimbabwe Open that gets underway at the same venue on Thursday.
A number of local professionals who were not among the 14 automatic entries from the Zimbabwe Professional Golfers’ Association circuit will also be involved in that pre-qualifier.
With only the top five amateurs on the Zimbabwe Golf Association Order of Merit Standings automatically entering into the main draw for the Old Mutual Zimbabwe Open, a sizeable number of local amateurs have also registered among the golfers who will battle in the pre-qualifier.
Zimbabwe Open Committee secretary and tournament director Mike Mahachi said:
“The total field is 156 players as it has always been and it is always the case with major championship events. The field is broken down into a 100 brought by the Sunshine Tour, in our 42 spots we allocate 15 spots to the Zimbabwe Professional Golfers’ Association and they nominate the players who automatically qualify for the tournament based on their Order of Merit Standings.
“We also invite the top five amateurs on the Zimbabwe Golf Association Order of Merit Standings and also extend invites to other African countries to nominate a player or players to be part of the 42.
“The rest of the players who do not automatically qualify have to participate in the pre-qualifier, which will be played at Royal Harare on Monday [tomorrow]. We are expecting about 60 players to compete for eight spots which will make up the field of 156 players.”
Prior to tomorrow’s pre-qualifier, a total of 29 Zimbabweans headlined by Sunshine Tour winners Tongo Charamba, Mark Williams and Marc Cayeux had already been confirmed in the field for this year’s tournament.
The United States-based duo of former Golf World Cup participant Bruce McDonald and rising star Sean Crocker are also in the field after receiving tournament invites from the organisers.
The Zimbabwean contingent will be eager to break the dominance by South African professional golfers, who have won every edition of the tournament since its return on the Sunshine Tour schedule in 2010.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s leading amateur golfers put up a spirited fight after pushing continental giants South Africa all the way before narrowly coming short by just a single point during the FBC sponsored Africa Region 5 Golf Tournament held at Chapman Golf Club on Thursday.
The 2018 Africa Region 5 featured eight teams, namely South Africa, Malawi, Uganda, Swaziland, Zambia, Namibia and Zimbabwe, who fielded two teams following the late withdrawal of Lesotho.
Zimbabwe team captain David Amm led his team from the front as he overcame the horror of being robbed of his belongings as well as his golf clubs and travel documents at gunpoint in South Africa just three days before the start of the prestigious event.
The Chapman Golf Club sensation put on an inspired individual performance, which was well complemented by his teammates as Zimbabwe almost denied the South Africans their 22nd title.
To put Zimbabwe’s impressive performance into proper perspective, South Africa has dominated the event since re-admittance in 1995 with just two losses.