Zimbabwe has been allocated six more automatic entries into next month’s Golden Pilsener Zambezi Open to bring the number of automatic entries to 16 golfers in recognition of the growth of the country’s premier golf tour.
The Zambezi Tour came into existence in March last year when its management board of trustees was given the mandate to organise and run all professional tournaments in the country. Following the success of the tour’s inaugural season, the top 16 players on last year’s Golden Pilsner Zambezi Tour Order of Merit will no longer be required to go through the pre-qualifiers.
The qualifying round will be played at Chapman Golf Club on April 17 where qualifiers for the Sunshine Tour will be run concurrently with the local pre-qualifying event. In a statement, the Zimbabwe Open secretary Mike Mahachi and tournament director said: “The starting field for the 2012 Golden Pilsner Zimbabwe Open has been increased from 144 to 150 players with the additional six entries coming from the Zambezi Tour.
“This brings the number of local, automatic entries to 16 in recognition of the growth of the Zambezi Tour. The following Tour members will be exempt from qualifying and arrangements have been made with Royal Harare for courtesy of the course with effect from April 1st 2012 for their preparations,” said Mahachi. Leading the local contingent is Zvishavane-born Ignatius Mketekete, who topped last season’s money list after a brilliant season.
He is joined on the list by Robson Saurombe, Phillip Tshuma, Peter Banda, Shane Pringle, Titch Musemburi, Dale Howie, Anyway Katembenuka, Patrick Mwendapole, Trainos Muradzikwa, Day Muyambo, Lyford Yadyo, Rodgers Jack, Brain Gondo, Mohammed Mhandu and Mick Hough.
Two-time Sunshine Tour winner Tongo Charamba, Ryan Cairns and Bruce McDonald will also not go through the pre-qualifiers as they have Sunshine Tour exemption status. The Golden Pilsner Zimbabwe Open, which is co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour, will be held at Royal Harare Golf Club from April 19-22. The tournament’s winners’ purse was last week increased from Z1,25 million to R1,5 million with the total sponsorship valued at $550 000 (R4,203,705,00) which covers the operational costs of running the tournament as well as the players’ prize fund.