Price’s Zim Open dream

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The three-time major winner and former world number one golfer Nick Price says he would love to have another crack at the flagship Zimbabwe Open Golf tournament before he hangs up his clubs.

The Zimbabwean golfing legend, 18-time winner on the US PGA Tour, lifted his record third Zimbabwe Open title at Royal Harare Golf Club on his last visit to the country in 1998 and hasn’t played in the event ever since.

But in an exclusive interview with NewsDay Sport from his base in Florida, US, the World Golf Hall of Fame inductee — who now competes on the Champions Tour — didn’t rule out a possible return.

“I really hope to play there (Zimbabwe Open) again. I miss hitting the ball down the fairways of Royal Harare Golf Club and I have so many fond memories of the place,” said Price referring to the course where he started what would become a glittering career.

“I was happy when I heard the tournament was back on the Sunshine Tour calendar. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to come down because of commitments on the Champions Tour.

“I don’t travel for tournaments as regularly as I used to do in the past, but it’s definitely one of my goals to play in the tournament. But I cannot promise when that will be at the moment,” said Price who turns 55 on January 28.

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 as the Africom Zimbabwe Open.

Six-time European Tour winner Tony Johnstone has graced the last two editions but it’s not clear yet if he will play in this year’s tournament which has been set for April 18-21.

Price — one of the country’s high-profile golf ambassadors — is one of the most successful players in the history of the tournament with three titles in 1995, 1997 and 1998.

He holds the tournament’s record after firing an astonishing 22-under-par 266 on his way to his maiden Zimbabwe Open title in 1995.

Price, a former student at Prince Edward High School in the capital — continues playing under Zimbabwe’s flag and flies his own jet plane to and from tournaments. Price said the country still held a special place in his heart.

“Zimbabwe is still my home. I grew up there and still have very fond memories of my time there when I was growing up. Like everyone, though, I’m concerned about the future of the country, but I hope things will get better,” said Price.

The veteran golfer also praised the performances of local golfers Brendon De Jonge and Bruce McDonald at the Omega Mission Hills Golf World Cup in China in November last year, where they finished 11th out of 28 teams.

“I followed the whole tournament keenly and I must say they did extremely well. Their performances — which must have surprised many — put Zimbabwean golf at the world stage.

“Obviously Brendon has been flying the country’s flag high on the PGA Tour and Bruce is also a very good player who has a very bright future ahead of him. It’s so amazing how the country continues to produce good players and hopefully the trend will continue,” said Price, who is also now into golf course design.

He has so far designed golf courses in South Africa, Dominican Republic and the TPC in Cancun, Mexico, Zimbabwe, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Portugal.