By ZBC Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Open Golf Tournament 2020 is back. The country’s richest and highly anticipated golf tournament on the local golfing calendar the Zimbabwe Open, sponsored to the tune of two million Rand is back for the year 2020.
The richest and most prestigious professional golf tournament on the local golfing calendar, the Zimbabwe Open, which is one of the five tournaments on the Sunshine Tour schedule was last year cancelled.
Lack of clarity over official foreign currency exchange rate policy prior to the introduction of a formal inter-bank market in February, was cited as the main cause for the delayed staging and later cancellation of the tournament last year.
Chairperson of the Organising Committee, Livingstone Gwata announced that the 2020 Zimbabwe Open will now take place at Royal Harare Golf Club over the period Monday 30 March with a pre-qualifier tournament at Royal through to Sunday 5 April when several ProAms will be played on Tuesday and Wednesday before the course set up begins.
The championship tournament will start on Thursday 2nd April to conclude on Sunday April 5, an adjustment to the proposed dates.
‘We are pleased to advise that the 2020 Zimnbabwe Open will now take place at Royal Harare Golf Club over the period Monday 30 March through to Sunday 5 April.
“The championship tournament will start on Thursday 2nd April and conclude on Sunday 5 April. You will note that there has been an adjustment in the dates previously proposed. The above dates are now firm and final. Programme details for the tournament will be availed in due course.
“This is an advance notice for your diaries,” said Gwata. It is, however, understood that confirmation of the required sponsorship only came through late last week.
Bankrolled by a number of local corporates, led by Old Mutual, an integrated financial services provider, the Zimbabwe Open golf is normally held during the Easter Holidays period at the Royal Harare Golf Club course.
Zimbabwe has been facing foreign exchange related challenges amid high prevalence of illegal trading in hard currency, especially the US dollar.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe then introduced an inter-bank foreign exchange market to improve the distribution of foreign currency and remove the distortions that were besetting the market.
The previous tournament was sponsored to the tune of R2 million sponsorship package having been increased from R1,8 million with partners Old Mutual, like Sahwira Events Management, ZOL, Golden Pilsener and Tongaat Hullets, among several others participating.
Bryce Easton, who fired a bogey free nine under-par 63 for a tournament total of 16-under, is the defending champion of the prestigious tournament after winning the 2018 edition, becoming the ninth successive South African to win the country’s flagship golf tournament. For his efforts Easton walked away with R317 000 in prize money.
A strong field of professional golfers from the European, Asian and Sunshine Tours including all past winners from South Africa, are expected to compete on the local golfing scene as usual.
Expectations are once again high for local professionals following several unimpressive shows since the return of the tournament from a 10 year hiatus.
Zimbabwean professionals young Ben Follet-Smith, Scott Vincent, Ryan Cairns, Mark Williams,Stephen Ferreira, Robson Chinhoi, Marc Cayeux, Thompson, Trainos Muradzikwa,Tongo Charamba will be eyeing a top notch chance yet again this year.
Hosting Zimbabwe Open always provides a platform for marketing and promoting Zimbabwe’s reputation as a tourist and business friendly destination and further encouraging travel to the region.
The Zimbabwe Open was first played in 1984 and from 1985 to 1992 was part of the Safari circuit, a collection of events in Africa that were played by professionals based on the European Tour during their winter. In 1991 and 1992 the event was also part of the Challenge Tour. From 1993 it moved onto the First National Bank Tour, which was later renamed the Sunshine Tour.
When it was held in the weeks preceding the Nedbank Golf Challenge, the tournament attracted some of the world’s leading players, as they used it as a warm up to the big money invitational. Past winners include major winners Vijay Singh and Nick Price who, along with Mark McNulty, is the most successful player at the event, both men having recorded three victories. Ryder Cup player Gordon J Brand is also a past winner.
Due to economic instability in Zimbabwe the tournament lost sponsors and was cancelled prior to the 2002 event. There were many attempts to resurrect the tournament, but none were successful until 2010.
By ZBC Reporter