Zim Golf Open moved to April

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The 2012 Africom Zimbabwe Open golf tournament, the biggest event on the local golfing calendar, has been set for April 18-21 at Royal Harare Golf Club in an attempt to avoid last year’s scenario when the flagship event was disrupted by wet weather.

The 72-hole tournament which took place in February last year had to be reduced to 54 holes after persistent heavy rain and a waterlogged golf course forced play to end prematurely.

Stung by last year’s rain-interrupted event, organisers of the Africom Zimbabwe Open decided to shift from the traditional month of January.

“We could just not ignore the effects the rains had on last year’s event which is why we agreed to move the tournament to April. January is generally the ideal month for the Open as it comes after a couple of high-profile tourneys in South Africa thereby generating interest from a lot of foreign players,” said Mike Mahachi, the Zimbabwe Open committee secretary in an interview with NewsDay Sport yesterday.

Four Sunshine Tour and European co-sanctioned tournaments — which attract interest from most top players from across the globe — are held in South Africa every year in December and January.

These are the Nedbank Golf Challenge held in December, the Africa Open which is currently underway and next week’s Johannesburg Open.

Mahachi admitted they could not ignore the effects of the rains on last year’s event.

“When we were deliberating on dates for this year’s event, we also had to consider the fact January is one of the wettest months of the year here in Zimbabwe,” said Mahachi, who added the Zimbabwe Open Golf Committee was set to meet with the sponsors, Africom, today on the sponsorship package for this year’s tournament.

However, despite the rain-induced stoppages, last year’s edition managed to live up to its billing with South Africans once again stealing the show.

South African Theunis Spangenburg became the second winner of the rebranded Open after carding a two under-par 70 on the final day of competition to finish with a final score of 15 under-par 201 to walk away with a cool R198 125.

The Zimbabwe Open, absent from the Zimbabwe golfing calendar for nearly a decade, made a welcome return on the Sunshine Tour calendar in 2010, rebranded the Africom Zimbabwe Open, thanks to title sponsor, Africom.

The Zimbabwe Open was first played in 1984 and was part of what was known as the Safari Tour, a collection of events in Africa played by professionals based on the European tour during their winter.

As a result, it became an event on the European-based Challenge tour in 1991, where it remained for two seasons before moving onto the FNB Summer Tour, which became the Southern Africa Tour and later the Sunshine Tour.