BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
SCOTT Vincent has set his sights on becoming the first Zimbabwean professional golfer to represent the country at the Olympics by earning a berth at the rescheduled Tokyo Games in July.
The 28-year-old golfer from Harare has creating waves on the Asian Tour, the Japanese Tour and European Tour as he battles to keep alive the country’s proud reputation as a nation that provides the world with some of its finest golfers.
Last season Vincent overcame the challenges posed by the coronavirus to register three top 10 finishes on the European Tour, with the highlight of his campaign coming at last month’s star-studded South African Open where he finished tied for sixth.
His other top 10 finishes of the season came at the Portugal Masters (8th) in September to add to his tie for nine at the English Championship in Hertfordshire, England, a month earlier.
Encouraged by his successful season in 2021, Vincent is hoping to continue competing at the top level by maintaining his place on the European and Japan Tours and ultimately representing the nation in Tokyo.
The International Golf Federation (IGF) is yet to confirm the new qualification criteria for the rescheduled Olympics, which will still be held in Tokyo, but from July 23 through August 8.
The new deadline for qualifying for this competition is June 29, 2021, with entry lists due a week later.
Vincent, who is Zimbabwe’s highest ranked golfer on the Official World Golf Ranking on position 214 in the world and 16th in Africa, is on course to qualify after moving into the latest projected field of 60 players for the men’s Olympic golf tournament.
The gifted Japan-based golfer, who is currently in the country on holiday, said representing the country at the Olympic Games would be an honour.
“This last season had its challenges, but I was able to perform well and to me it was still considered a successful season with some good results. My expectations for this next year are to compete at a top level and do my best to secure my card and playing rights on the European tour and japan tour for the following season. My sights are still set on qualifying for the Olympics and having the honour to represent Zimbabwe,” Vincent said.
Vincent also opened up on the challenges he faced last year when he was forced to revise his schedule after the coronavirus outbreak led to indefinite suspension of tournaments on the Asian and Japanese Tours.
“When I heard that tournaments were starting up again, I was so grateful to be able to compete again. It was the longest break between events I have ever experienced, but I think I used the lockdown time really well by practising and training hard so that I would be ready when I could play again,” he said.
Once play resumed after the Covid-19 postponements, Vincent, who had shifted base from Japan to Europe, also had to adjust to the new health and safety protocols adopted by the European Tour.
The Zimbabwean, however, admits that he was fortunate to have the company of his wife Kelsey Loupeee, who he competes in tournaments with as his caddie.
“The Covid protocols and tournament ‘bubble’ was a strange environment for everyone to get used to. You want to greet your friends you haven’t seen in a long time, but you can’t even fist- bump, so that was strange. I was lucky enough to have my wife with me caddying inside the bubble so it was much easier for me to cope with the new norms,” said Vincent.