ZIMBABWEAN golfer Mark Williams believes the exposure he gained from last week’s Pre-Open Classic will serve him well in the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open which begins tomorrow at Royal Harare Golf Club.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Williams was one of the local golfers who teed it up in the Pre-Open Classic held at the world-renowned golf club in an effort to familiarise with the course ahead of the country’s flagship event.
The 31-year-old Bulawayo-born golfer played some solid golf over the two rounds and was unlucky to miss out on the coveted title to Mohammad Mandhu on the second playoff hole after both players were deadlocked on four-under-par in regulation play.
Reflecting on his performance in the Pre-Open Classic, Williams, who is making a return from injury, said the Pre-Open Classic had given him a better idea of how to approach the tournament.
“It’s really nice to come out and see the course ahead of the Zimbabwe Open which is my favourite event of the year, being a Zimbabwean,” Williams told NewsDay Sport in an interview at Royal Harare Golf Club ahead of the start of the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open tomorrow.
“I’m still coming from an injury I had last year, but I think I played really well. I had 13 birdies and an eagle over the two rounds. I just made too many mistakes, but at least I now know what I need to do for the big one,” he said.
Williams said like every golfer, his target at the start of every tournament was to emerge victorious. He said he was happy to play the waiting game.
“You always come out trying to win a golf tournament. That’s the number one goal, but I’m trying to be a bit more patient and let things happen. First, I hope to be around for the weekend and from there on, hopefully I can put myself in a position where I can come close to winning,” he said.
Williams, who represents Johannesburg-based Modderfontein Golf Club, turned pro in 2002, but had to wait 10 years for his first win which came at the season ending Big Easy Tour Championship at the Els Club Copperleaf in September 2012.
He stormed to victory under intense pressure with a sensational 67 on the final day to secure a fourth-place finish in the Big Easy Tour Order of Merit as a result.
The Tour Championship win was the pre-cursor to an even bigger breakthrough for Williams, who two weeks later came agonisingly close to capturing his maiden Sunshine Tour win at R2 million Lion of Africa Cape Town Open in November 2013.
Williams led the field from day one to the 72nd hole. However, with a one-stroke lead playing the final hole, he made a heart-breaking bogey which forced him to settle for a place in a four-man playoff.
Sadly, he lost out to 2013 Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open champion Jake Roos on the second playoff hole.
Williams was to come close again in 2013, finishing in a tie for third position at the Investec Royal Swazi Open.
He will be hoping he can reproduce that form in this year’s Golden Pilsener Open where he will lead the local charge with the likes of Ryan Cairns and Tongo Charamba.