NEWLY-crowned Golden Pilsener Harare Open champion Dale Howie will miss the Hwange Open field due to shortage of funds and hopes his recent win at Chapman Golf Club will help him attract more sponsorship.
The Hwange Open which has a prize-fund of $15 000 gets underway today with the traditional Pro-Am event before the 54-hole official championship gets underway from tomorrow to Sunday.
Howie, who captained the Zimbabwe amateur golf team before turning professional two years ago, carded 73-71-66 to capture his maiden professional title at the weekend.
However despite pocketing $4 500 from the $25 000 Golden Pilsener Harare Open, Howie said he was unable to compete in Hwange.
“Winning my first event at the Golden Pilsener Harare Open is an absolutely amazing feeling.
“Unfortunately I won’t be playing in the Hwange Open this coming week due to a shortage of funds preventing me from travelling.
“I’m hopeful that following my maiden win on the Golden Pilsner Zambezi Tour I may be able to attract sponsorship which will help me to compete in more tournaments and to improve my game and ranking,” Howie said in an interview with sister paper NewsDay Sport.
Organisers of the Hwange Open said they had received about 36 entries with Sunshine Tour professional golfer Irvin Mazibuko the only foreign player in the field.
Defending champion Brian Gondo will be one of the pre-tournament favourites to land the coveted title together with Zimbabwe Professional Golfers’ Association president Tongo Charamba who won the 2011 edition of the tournament.
Gondo finished on four-under par 140 to win last year’s event by one shot ahead of Nyasha Muyambo and Ignatius Mketekete.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s leading professional golfer Brendon de Jongé will play his first tournament in South Africa in a very long time when he tees off at the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek Golf Club today.
De Jongé who is still fresh from an impressive 12th place finish at the ISPS Handa World Cup of Golf in Australia recently, is arguably the second best player in the field.
The other Zimbabwean golfer to look out for in the Alfred Dunhill Championship field would be Ryan Cairns.