GOLFER Ryan Cairns has been the country’s flag bearer on the Sunshine Tour in South Africa for the past three seasons, but lack of funding has stalled his dream of taking his career to the next level as he hopes to earn a spot on the lucrative United States PGA Tour.
REPORT BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Currently, United States-based Brendon de Jonge is the only Zimbabwean professional golfer plying his trade on the US PGA Tour.
Cairns, who has managed to make his mark at the pinnacle of professional golf in Africa, the Sunshine Tour and the Zambezi Tour on the local circuit believes he can be the next Zimbabwean golfer to break into the US PGA Tour.
The former St Georges College student told NewsDay Sport this week that his dream could however fail to come to fruition if the local corporate world doesn’t come to his support.
“To put it simply, I would like the opportunity to take the next step in my professional golf career and compete on the biggest stage in the game, the US PGA Tour.
“As you know, I’ve been trying for the last few months to find a sponsor to back my career so that I can achieve that goal, but have found it tough to get sponsors.
“The costs per event in South Africa range from $600 to $1 000. This cost then has to be earned back on my part just to cover the event, let alone pay for my monthly living expenses.
“What I am trying to find is just a company (or syndicate of businessmen) to alleviate this weekly travelling expense in return for their company being promoted through the journey of my career as well as of course the branding of my bag and cap.
“Currently, I sponsor myself which means that the job at hand each week is to earn more than I spend in order to fund the next few weeks or months on the road and ultimately to keep this dream alive of competing on The PGA Tour in the near future,” said Cairns.
Cairns said he had set his sights on qualifying for the Web.com Tour, the top developmental tour for the US PGA Tour.
“As I want to take the next step in my career, qualifying school for the Web.com Tour in the United States is my main focus right now though. There is no longer a PGA Tour Qualifying School, so players now have to get onto the Web.com tour and finish top 25 on the Order of Merit standings to be promoted onto the PGA Tour,” said Cairns.
Qualifying School lasts 10 weeks, will cost around $15 000 and entries close on September 18.
Cairns, who managed his breakthrough win at the Vodacom Origins of Golf Simola tournament last year, was the highest placed local golfer on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit standings after finishing a creditable 44th.
This season, he has managed three top 10 finishes and made 13 out of 16 cuts with a best finish of a tie for fourth position at the Zambia Sugar Open in May.
He also finished as the highest placed local player at the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open in April finishing a respectable seventh place on the leaderboard and is lying 10th on the Sunshine Tour’s season-long points race, The Investec Cup.
Ryan Cairns’ Career Highlights
2002 — Won African Junior Challenge in Kenya
2002 — Won Mashonaland Amateur in Zimbabwe
2002 — 4th Place World Junior Amateur Orange Bowl in Miami
2005 — Won the Southern Cape Closed Championships
Sunshine Tour Victories
2012 — Vodacom Origins of Golf Simola
2012 — Sunshine Big Easy Tour — Observatory GC
Five professional wins, Four on the Zambezi Tour and One on the Australian Tour).