UNITED States-based amateur golfer Ben Follet-Smith put himself in contention for a place in the Zimbabwe team for next month’s the World Amateur Team Championship in Japan after a playoff win at the Harare Amateur Championship at the Country Club on Sunday.
The 20-year-old prodigy, who is on a golf scholarship at Mississippi State University, claimed a hard-fought win after a sudden death playoff as he successfully held off a spirited late rally from fellow US-based golfer Ray Badenhorst.
Follet-Smith (71, 68, 72, 71) had started the final round with a two shot lead over Badenhorst (70, 72, 71, 69), but could only manage to a card 71 on Sunday while the latter stormed back into contention with a solid 69.
With both players completing the four rounds level on six-under par 282 a playoff was required.
The duo could not be separated after the first two playoff holes as both managed a birdie on the first and a par each on the second.
Follet-Smith, however, sealed a thrilling win after managing a title-clinching par putt on the third playoff hole to outlast Badenhorst in a sudden-death showdown.
Midlands Amateur Champion Thembelani Vundla finished third on one-over par 289 after carding rounds of 73, 74, 73 and 69 with Gary Thompson finishing fourth on 290.
Travis Smith (75, 73, 72, 75) was fifth on 295 while Tonderai Masunga, Visitor Mapwanya, Kieran Vincent, Doctor Maphosa and young David Amm were tied for sixth.
With yesterday’s win Follet-Smith rose to second position on the race to the World Amateur Team Championship standings on 83 points, behind Badenhorst, who retained top position on 83 points.
Masunga, who was second prior to the Harare Amateur Championship, dropped to third position on the standings as he could only master a sixth place on Sunday.
The Zimbabwe Golf Association (ZGA) is expected to finalise the three-member World Amateur Team Championship team after the conclusion of the Zimbabwe Amateur Championship in the Lowveld this weekend.
Indications are that the top two players on the race to the World Amateur Team Championship standings will qualify automatically for the world’s premier amateur golf event, which is also known as the Eisenhower Trophy.
The other slot is likely to be awarded to US-based sensation Scott Vincent, who yesterday rose to an impressive sixth position on the World Amateur Golf Rankings.
Japan hosts this year’s edition of the tournament in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, with the 72-hole competition running from September 11-14.
Meanwhile, Cornway College will hold a Charity Golf Tournament at the Highlands Country Club on Friday as a fundraising initiative for the schools’ interact club.
Other proceeds from the charity golf tournament will channeled towards to Simbaredenga Childrens’ Home.