BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
HAVING achieved one of his career goals by qualifying for the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games in Japan, Zimbabwe’s leading professional golfer Scott Vincent is not resting on his laurels as he has set himself another milestone of earning a place on the lucrative PGA Tour in the US.
The 29-year-old rising star will become the first Zimbabwean golfer to feature in the Olympics when he tees off in the men’s competition at Kasumigaseki Country Club on the outskirts of Tokyo from July 29 to August 1.
Qualification for the Olympics was the culmination of over five years of hard work and perseverance after he narrowly missed out on a ticket to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games in Brazil.
While Vincent is buzzing at the opportunity to compete against some of the world’s best golfers for the three medals on offer, he also has an eye on the future and one of his targets is to play at the highest level of pro golf in the US.
The talented Zimbabwean, who claimed his first international victory two years ago at the Landic Challenge in Japan, is currently a regular on the Japan Tour and he has also featured on the European Tour and the Asian Tour.
However, playing on the PGA Tour in the United States remains the main target for Vincent, who enjoyed remarkable success during his four- year stint at Virginia Tech on a golf scholarship.
Vincent, who is still revered at his alma mater, almost six years after he left to turn professional, opened up on his future plans in an in-depth interview with the Virginia Tech men’s golf head coach Brian Sharp.
“The plan is to try to get back to the [United] States, sooner rather than later,” Vincent said when asked about his plans after the Olympic Games.
“That’s our two-three-year plan. We’re going to try to use the world ranking route, trying to get into some of those WGC [events], majors. I think if you get your world ranking inside the top 100, you can start getting a few invites. That’s the route we’re looking at for the next two years.
“If that doesn’t work out, then we might look at Q-School or something like that. But, yes, that is the goal. That’s where we want to be and we’re working on it.”
Vincent played men’s golf for the Virginia Tech Hokies from 2011-15, while his wife and now caddy, Kelsey, played women’s soccer for the same university from 2011-14.
The couple graduated from Virginia Tech in 2015 before tying the knot two years later.
Scott, whose younger brother Kieran is now also making a name for himself at nearby Liberty University, said his development at Virginia Tech helped lead him to a professional career and eventually became the country’s first-ever Olympic golfer.
“I think coming to the [United] States in general was huge for me, just to compete against the next best and a lot of [future] PGA Tour players. Obviously, Virginia Tech was a big part of that. Tech was a big reason why I was able to continue to develop my game and test it against some of the best players in the world.”
He added: “ I really loved my time [at Virginia Tech]. We got to play in some really strong fields against some of the best [competition]. We played against Justin Thomas (University of Alabama), Bryson [DeChambeau] (South Methodist University), Jordan Spieth (University of Texas), and I’m sure I’m missing a few guys.”
The Zimbabwean star revealed that he was grateful to have the unique opportunity of having his wife, Kelsey, as his caddie.
“We got married in 2017 and that very next week we were at European Tour Q-School. She’s been on the bag since then. She’s had one or two weeks where she hasn’t been able to because she’s needed to come back for family weddings and best friend stuff, but other than that, she’s been there the whole time, which has been amazing.”
Vincent is also hopeful that his familiarity with golf in Japan due to his participation on the Japan Tour will come in handy during the men’s Olympic golf tournament.
“I think playing over there the past two-ish seasons will hopefully play into my hands. I feel comfortable out there. I love Japan. I love the food, the culture, everything, so I feel very comfortable,” he said