By FELIX MALUNGA-
AS the D-day for the prestigious Mopani Copper Mines 2014 Zambia Open Golf Championship looms, tournament authorities, Sunshine Tour have unveiled a final list of 134 players to compete for honours at the refurbished Nkana Golf Club in Kitwe.
Of the 134 golfers heading to Kitwe next week for the richest-ever Zambia Open tournament in history, 25 will be flying the Zambian flag in search for the title which has eluded local players since the event’s inception in 1972.
Zambia will line up 12 professionals and 14 amateurs in the tournament where a record $250,000 (more than K1.5 million) has been staked as prize money for deserving golfers.
Leading the local professionals’ charge will be 2006 Zambia Open joint runner-up, Madalitso Muthiya, Patrick Mwendapole, who was the 2011 best performer for Zambia, 2010 record setter, Dayne Moore, whose 2010 score is still unmatched by a local player, and Michael Chiluba.
Other Zambian professionals are Aaron Simfukwe, Obed Sholoma, Buba Samutela, Geoffrey Banda, Mohamed Zulu, Stephen Mbewe, Kelvin Phiri and Nkana favourite, Beza Daka.
Timothy Sondashi, who almost swept everything on display in local competitions, will lead the Zambian amateurs with budding junior Peter Munyinya, Gabriel Chibale, Kelvin Chibuye, Fred Ndhlovu, Mwivwanji Simukoko and Charles Shalubobya.
The rest of the amateurs are Fred Ndhlovu, Ebenezer Funga, Mukuka Mwango jnr, Denmark Mulambo, Tristan Brice, Aaron Simfukwe jnr, Mwila Mwango, and Matengere Kaira.
Defending champion, Adilson Da Silva from Brazil with three other past winners, Desvonde Botes, Doug McGuigan and Tyrone (all South Africans) will also be in Kitwe for the championship scheduled for May 15-18.
Sunshine Tour has put 22 other professional players on a reserve list.
With four luxurious vehicles staked as hole-in-one prizes for four short holes at Nkana, hole-in-one specialist, Andre Cruse will again attempt to shoot accurately during the Mopani Zambia Open.
Southern Cross Motors have dangled a Jeep Cherokee with Toyota Zambia chipping in with the 2014 model of Toyota Corolla while Vehicle Centre and Yeti Motors had contributed a Ford Ranger and Hyundai IX 35, respectively.
The Mopani Zambia Open will be preceded by two Pro-Ams (Airtel/Samsung on May 13 and Zamtel/Redpath Mining on May 14).