Two-time Sunshine Tour winner Tongo Charamba has won almost everything on the local golf scene, but is yet to lay his hands on the most coveted of them all — the Zimbabwe Open Golf trophy.
The 30-year-old seasoned professional golfer was barely in his third year since turning pro when he became just the third black golfer to win on the Sunshine Tour when he claimed the SAA Pro-Am Invitational in 2006.
He followed it up with another win at the MTC Namibia PGA Championship at Windhoek Country Club two years later.
“I have won twice on the Sunshine Tour, three national junior titles and about four amateur championships, but I’m yet to win the Zimbabwe Open since it was revived in 2010.
“The Zim Open is the biggest tournament on the local golf scene and winning it remains my main goal,” said Charamba.
The Sunshine Tour- sanctioned event, which was rebranded the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open with an improved prize fund of R1,5 million, will take place at Royal Harare Golf Club from April 19-22.
Last year, Charamba was one of just three local professionals to make the cut in the tournament before eventually finishing tied for 36th position on 3-under-par 213 after rounds of 74, 67 and 72.
South African Theunis Spangenburg won the rain-affected tournament last year to walk away with the winner’s cheque of R198 125.
“Last year I went into the tournament after just recovering from injury. I did my best under the circumstances but I feel I should have done better. This year I’m fully fit and I’m looking forward to doing well,” Charamba said.
Royal Harare Golf Club has not been a happy hunting ground for local golfers since the tournament was revived in 2010.
You have to go back 12 years ago when a Zimbabwean last won the tournament after Mark McNulty, now a naturalised Irishman, carded a 19 under 269 to walk away with the title.
When the tournament was reintroduced on the calendar in 2010, injured Zimbabwean golfer Marc Cayeux came close to winning the title.
Meanwhile, United States-based local professional Bruce McDonald has confirmed his participation in this year’s tournament.
Speaking to NewsDay Sport from his base in the US, McDonald, who recently came second at the eGolf Tour’s Pine Needles Classic a fortnight ago, said:
“I’m flying back to Zimbabwe for the Zimbabwe Open and three other Sunshine Tour events after before I come back to the US. It’s good to see Golden Pilsener step to the plate and increase the tournament sponsorship.
“It should be a great week with the new dates and sponsor. I’m looking forward to playing the tournament at Royal Harare, where I hope some of the local Zimbabwean professionals, myself included, can put up a great week and create some excitement for the local following.”