WITH just over a month left before the 2014 Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open, entries for the high-profile tournament have already swelled to 113 with both local and Southern Africa’s finest golfers dominating the entries.
The Sunshine Tour co-sanctioned event, which brings together both local and foreign golfers, will be held during the week of April 7 to 13 at Royal Harare Golf Club in the capital.
The pre-qualifying tournament and the traditional Pro-Am will be held during this period, culminating in the big tournament during the last four days of the week.
South African golfers yet again dominate the number of entries for this year’s tournament, which has so far attracted players from Italy, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Lesotho, Zambia, Namibia and Kenya.
The South Africans, however, have by far the largest number of competitors, with 102 players from the list of 119 players.
The Zimbabwe Open Golf Committee secretary Michael Mahachi said they were expecting a field of 156 golfers for the tournament.
“A total of 156 players will make up the starting field for the championship. Among the starting 156 will be a contingent of local professionals from the local Zambezi Golf Tour which will be allocated 18 slots. The other slots will be allocated to the leading five amateurs on the order of merit standing while others will be through tournament invites by the Zimbabwe Open Committee and the pre-qualifying tournament,” Mahachi said.
Delta Beverages, through their Golden Pilsener brand bankrolled last year’s tournament with a total sponsorship package of
$550 000, inclusive of the R1,2 million prize money.
Mahachi said they would be sponsoring this year’s tournament again although finer details of the sponsorship package will be unveiled at a later date.
This year’s tournament is expected to be fiercely contested as the field is expected to feature four former champions of the competition since it was revived in 2010.
Jbe’ Kruger, who won the 2010 edition will be joined by fellow champions Theunis Spangenberg (2011), Chris Swanepoel (2012) and the defending champion Jake Roos.
Five Zimbabwean golfers, namely Ryan Cairns, Sheldon Steyn, Dale Howie, Greg Bentley and Micky Hough have so far entered, but the list is expected to grow.
Local golfers have found the going tough with the injured Marc Cayeux the only one to come close to winning the title after finishing third behind eventual winner Kruger and second-placed Jaco Van Zyl — all of South Africa — in the 2010 event.
Cairns was Zimbabwe’s best performer at last year’s Zimbabwe Open where he came out tied for seventh position.