By SANDRA MWILA –
THE Zanaco Masters golf tournament tees-off today at the Lusaka Golf Club with over 144 local and international golfers taking to the course to compete for the R2 million prize money.
The Zanaco Maters takes over from the Zambia Sugar Open whose three year contract at the Lusaka Golf Club ended last year on the Sunshine Tour.
Like any other year, the tournament has been dominated by entries from South African professionals who have made Zambia their preferred hunting ground.
While Oliver Bekker is not available to defend his title, other former champions such as Adilson da Silva of Brazil, Justin Harding and Tyrone Ferreira among others will be geared to battle for the title.
Zambia’s chase for glory will be on the shoulders of Madalitso Muthiya and Dayne Moore as the two professionals have been the most consistent on the Sunshine Tour and will be happy to return home again.
Muthiya has already competed in five tournaments on the Sunshine Tour this year though he failed to make the cut in three of them while Moore despite competing in more than six tournaments this year has failed to tick.
The duo will be hoping to use home advantage to improve their game and earn some prizes.
Muthiya said he will give it his best shot to win the tournament which no Zambian has ever won since its inception.
He said he was looking forward to the Zanaco Masters and was ready for the challenge.
“ I always aim to have a high ranking on the Sunshine Tour so that I progress to another tour. Pressure is inevitable. It’s always going to be there based on how I have done previously,” Muthiya said.
He added that there was still hope for a Zambian to win the Zambia international tournament and that the time will be coming soon. It definitely can happen this week. I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t because we have a chance like anybody else,” he said.
Other local golfers who have entered the tournament include Denmark Mulambo, Patrick Mwendapole, Besa Daka, Sydney Wemba and Aaron Simfukwe Jr among others.
In total, 11 Zambians have entered where five are amateurs and the rest are professionals.
During the Pre-qualification, only one Zambian in Timothy Sondashi made the cut for the 12 available slots.
Sondashi carded three over 75 to make the cut that was set at gross 76 for the 63 golfers that competed for a ticket on the Zanaco Masters.
Local organising committee chairperson Roy Penny said all is set for an eventful tournament and was looking forward to seeing local golfers challenge for the title.
He urged the locals to ensure they play to make the cut after tomorrow’s second round.
“Zambians need to work hard, practice and maintain discipline if they are to improve. They will not perform well by default,” Penny said.
And Zanaco Managing director Henk Mulder has urged golfers to shine during the Zanaco Masters tournament.
The four day tournament was preceded by two Pro Ams on Monday and Tuesday where the golfers had a chance to get a feel of the Lusaka Golf course.
As the Masters proper starts today, different sponsors have staked prizes on different holes for a golfer who shoots a hole-in-one.
Astro holdings have staked a Hyndai Velsoter worth $40,000 for a hole in one on hole number 11 which is a par three.
Meanwhile Professional golfer Ryns West led a group of armatures to win the 2018 Aquasavannah Pro- Arm after immersing 91 points on a count back.
West was paired with Theo Birch , Mohammad Bhagoo and Taheer Adam for them to walk away assorted prizes ranging from stoves, rice cookers and microwaves courtesy of Kubu Craft.
The professional golfer West among other prizes pocketed $300 for winning the Pro- Arm.