ONE of Zimbabwe’s most accomplished golf coaches Lewis Muridzo (Chitengwa) will next month host a fundraising golf tournament to enable members of his family to attend his late son’s induction ceremony into the Mercedes-Benz Southern Africa Golf Hall of Fame.
Lewis Chitengwa (Jr), who passed away 13 years ago while playing in the Canadian Tour, will be recognised posthumously for his immense contribution to golf in Southern Africa at a Gala Banquet to be held in Cape Town on June 2.
The induction into the Mercedes-Benz Southern Africa Golf Hall of Fame will see Chitengwa joining the ranks of Southern African golfing greats such as compatriot Nick Price, Gary Player, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and many others.
In an interview with our sister paper NewsDay Sport Muridzo (Sr) said the Lewis Chitengwa Fundraiser will be played at Wingate Golf Club on April 19 and proceeds from the competition will be used to assist members of his family to be present during the induction ceremony.
“As a family we are so grateful and happy that Lewis might be gone, but the whole world is still remembering him which is a great thing in our lives,” Muridzo said.
“We are hoping to be there at the official induction ceremony in Cape Town, SA, on June 2. We have been invited as a family and some of his friends and that’s why we are hosting this fundraising golf tournament.
“We hope proceeds from the competition will cover general expenses such as flights and accommodation for the family in South Africa,” Muridzo, who last year was recognised by the Zimbabwe Golf Association with a Lifetime Achievement Award, said.
Chitengwa was born in Harare in 1975 and by the time he had reached his teens it was clear the young golfer had the talent to follow in the spike-marks of fellow Zimbabwean golfing greats like Price, Tony Johnstone and Mark McNulty.
In 1992 Chitengwa, aged only 17, attended the Orange Bowl Championships in the US and won it beating Tiger Woods.
The following year Chitengwa became the first black player to win the South African Amateur Championship at East London Golf Club, beating former Masters champion Rory Sabbatini en route to the title.
His victory was seen as the African golfing equivalent of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s colour barrier in the US.
All this good play earned the young Zimbabwean a scholarship to attend the University of Virginia, where he excelled in US college golf before graduating in 1998, majoring in African-American studies.
Gifted in languages, he spoke fluent English, Shona and French and studied Japanese, Spanish, Italian and Swahili.
However, his overriding passion was golf and his dream was to become number one in the world. Chitengwa had a flair for dramatic shot making and a penchant for smashing enormous tee shots which earned him victory in the 1996 NCAA Long Drive Contest yet again edging out Tiger Woods into second spot.
After turning professional Chitengwa in 1999 became the first African to qualify for the Buy.Com Tour. He made it into several events on the PGA Tour. Moving forward to 2011, he found himself on the Canadian Tour and playing well, with a number of top-10 finishes in a row.
After the second round of the Edmonton Open he fell ill and tragically died just hours later of a rare form of meningitis aged just 26.