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Vincent relishing Olympic opportunity

BY DANIEL NHAKANISO

ZIMBABWE’S leading professional golfer Scott Vincent is relishing the chance of competing against some of the world’s leading professional golfers after booking his ticket for the men’s competition at next month’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The 29-year-old will go up against some of the top golfers in the world, who include the United States quartet of Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele and Collin Morikawa, who also qualified for the Tokyo Games.

Four-time major champion, Rory McIlroy of Ireland and recent US Open Champion, John Rahm from Spain, are some of the other leading golfers who Vincent will go up against in Tokyo and he is savouring the opportunity.

“Obviously, it was a goal of mine to make it to the Olympics;

“I was very close last time (Rio Olympics), so it’s encouraging to know that I’m getting better all the time,” Vincent told Standardsport in an exclusive interview.

“There are a lot of good players coming up and to qualify to represent my country is a great honour.

“Any chance I get to represent the country, I’m always very excited for that.”

A product of Zimbabwe’s junior golf development initiatives, led by the legendary Chapman Golf Club teaching professional Roger Baylis, Vincent thanked the veteran coach for the role he played in his career from the junior ranks.

He also paid tribute to the former Cheetahs player Grant Mitchell, who is now a strength and conditioning expert for helping him stay in the best shape possible as he chased his Olympic dream.

“I just want to thank Roger Baylis from Zimbabwe junior golf for really setting me up to have this opportunity because it all begins in the junior level and grassroots, so they are really a big part of this. I’d also like to thank Grant Mitchell for helping me get my body in the best shape I can be and other people behind the scenes.”

Affectionately known in local golf circles as “Mhondoro” due to his exploits on the golf course, Vincent was named to the official field of 60 players for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics announced by the International Golf Federation (IGF) on Tuesday.

The Zimbabwean star finished 51st in the men’s Olympic Golf Rankings to secure his place in the final field of the men’s competition, which will be played at Kasumigaseki Country Club in Tokyo from July 29 to August 1.

Despite his world ranking of 239th, Vincent will head to Tokyo with a chance of upstaging his higher ranked opponents more so as he will be playing in familiar surroundings in Tokyo, which has been his second home for the past two years.

He is, however, keeping his feet firmly on the ground and not putting himself under any pressure on his Olympic debut.

“I’m just grateful to be there to have the opportunity to play and represent the country. I’m not setting myself any targets and I just want to be the best I can be, I know I’m capable of playing on big stages like this and with the best players in the world so I’m just excited for the opportunity to be there and to compete and to test my skills and to learn and grow from it all,” he said.

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