BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
“IF you want to make millions out of a sporting career, perhaps your best bet might be to take up golf,” once remarked American sports & business writer, Danielle Rossingh in a piece for CNN.
Rossingh, who has worked for some of the world’s biggest media companies, including Forbes, CNN, Daily Telegraph, the BBC and Bloomberg News just to mention a few, had noted how top level professional golfers continued to rake in more millions for longer periods in their careers compared to athletes in any other sport.
Locally, Zimbabwe’s top ranked professional golfer Scott Vincent is proving just how financially rewarding the sport of golf is after recently surpassing US$2 million in career prize money since turning professional only four years ago.
He might not yet be featuring in more lucrative United States PGA and European Tours where the world’s top golfers showcase their talents, but Vincent, who has been plying his trade on the Asian and Japan Golf Tours, has been raking in tens of thousands of dollars on a weekly basis.
Last Sunday the 27 year-old golfer, who is only in his third season in the paid ranks, completed his 2019 schedule and finished tied on 11th position at the Japan Golf Tour’s Golf Nippon Series JT Cup.
Vincent’s performance at the 2019 season ending event earned him a cool ¥1,882,593 (approximately US$17, 169.25) which took his earnings on the Japan Golf Tour this season to ¥56,823,626 (US 518, 061.00) from 20 tournaments this season.
The former St John’s College pupil is ranked 15th on the Japan Golf Tour money list, which is topped by Japanese golfer Shugo Imahira, who raked in $US 1, 532, 105.58.
In addition to the just over half a million US dollars he earned on the Japan Golf Tour this season, Vincent also took home a further US 251, 650 from 11 tournaments he participated in on the Asian Tour this season to take his total earnings on the circuit since 2016 to US 1, 133, 976.
Vincent is ranked an impressive sixth on the Asian Tour money rankings despite playing on a few tournaments on the circuit this season in order to concentrate on his commitments on the more lucrative Japanese Golf Tour.
The Zimbabwean has also been active on the South Africa-based Sunshine Tour, where has so far earned ZAR 1,536, 787 ($ US106 861) in 16 tournaments from 2016 to last year.
In total Vincent has earned around US $2, 085, 850 in prize money on the Sunshine, Asian, and Japan Golf Tours since 2016 making him one of Zimbabwe’s current highest earning professional athletes.
Vincent’s earning puts him alongside other top earning local sports stars such as Zimbabwe international footballer Marvelous Nakamba, who reportedly earns around US$71 000 per week at English Premiership side Aston Villa.
However the talented who is nicknamed “Mhondoro” in local golf circles still has a lot of work to do to catch up with some of his golfing compatriots such as World Golf Hall of Fame member Nick Price, Tony Johnstone, Mark McNulty and Brendon de Jonge.
The legendary three-time major winner Price, who rose from Harare to become the world’s top ranked golfer in the ‘90s is ranked amongst the highest earning golfers of all time after netting 26,400,884 in prize money on the US PGA Tour during his illustrious career.
The 39 year-old De Jonge, who was the country’s most recent flag bearer on the US PGA Tour before losing his playing privileges two years ago, earned a whooping US$ 12,310,936.
Vincent, who plays with his American wife Kelsey Loupee as his caddie will be hoping to scale the heights touched by most of his compatriots as he battles to keep alive the country’s proud reputation as a nation that provides the world with some of its finest golfers.
The talented Zimbabwean claimed his first international victory in June at the Landic Challenge on the AbemaTV Tour in Japan.
It was an emotional victory for Vincent, who came close to securing his breakthrough win on several occasions on the Asian Tour, where he has been a runner-up five times since joining the tour three years ago.