Zimbabwe’s top golfer on the Sunshine Tour Tongoona Charamba is the only local professional with automatic entry in the Investec Royal Swazi Open which tees off at the Royal Swazi Sun Country Club on Wednesday.
Charamba is the only local professional with exemption status for the tournament while fellow local pros Tranos Muradzikwa and Ignatius Mketekete took part in the pre-qualifiers which were to be completed later on Tuesday.
This will be one of the lowest representations of local golfers on the tour this year as Ryan Cairns, Mohammad Mandhu, Day Muyambo, Philip Tshuma, Dean Schoultz and Robson Saurombe have all withdrawn from the tournament.
However, the country’s hopes will lie with two-time winner Charamba, who remains Zimbabwe’s leading performer on the cash-rich regional tour despite making a subdued start this year.
His best finish this year was at the Dimension Data Pro-Am in February where he finished tied for seventh for a cool R64 950, by far his biggest pay cheque this season.
In his last tournament however, Charamba struggled at the MTC Namibia PGA Championship in March. The soft-spoken professional had a disastrous outing after finishing on number 62.
However, he remains the only local golfer ranked in the top 50 on the tour’s latest rankings having earned R103 651 from four tournaments and sits on position 46.
Last year at the Investec Royal Swazi Open, injured local pro Marc Cayeux was the highest-placed Zimbabwean after finishing 36th, while Charamba failed to make the cut.
Defending champion Keith Horne, who walked away with the R118 875 winners’ cheque last year, is not there to defend his title this year.
Some of the contenders for this year’s title are reigning Africom Zimbabwe Open champion Theunis Spangenburg, Sunshine Tour seasoned campaigners Darren Fichardt and Jean Hugo Adilson da Silva, to mention a few.
Over 72 professional golfers from Southern Africa are part of this tournament sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour.
The scoring system allocates eight points for an albatross, five for an eagle, two for birdies, none for pars, and subtracts one for bogeys and three for double bogeys.