ZIMBABWEAN golfer Lewis Chitengwa (Jnr), who passed away 13 years ago was recently recognised posthumously for his immense contribution to golf after being inducted into Mercedes-Benz Southern African Golf Hall of Fame.
Chitengwa was inducted into the class of 2014 with South African golf luminaries Fulton Allem, John Fourie, Mrs A E Vernon (nee Ormsby), Ronnie Glennie and long serving South Africa Golf Association’s H (Walter) Conyers Kirby.
Chitengwa (Jnr) passed away in July 2001 after rare form of meningitis aged 26 after he became ill at the tournament’s second round of the Canadian Tour’s Edmonton Open.
The golf prodigy, who was destined to be a great player, won the 1992 Orange Bowl World Junior Championship in Miami, Florida by three shots over Tiger Woods.
He won the Zimbabwe Amateur Championship three times and was the first black golfer to win the SA Amateur in 1993.
After winning the SA Amateur, Chitengwa was an instant hero to all who had suffered under apartheid in South Africa, and all who opposed the racist system.
His victory in South Africa was often referred to as the “African golfing equivalent of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier.”
A two-time All-American college career followed at Virginia before he turned pro. His father Lewis Muridzo (Chitengwa), an accomplished coach was last year also recognised by the Zimbabwe Golf Association with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his immense contribution to the sport.
Chitengwa Snr has taught juniors and Wingate members for the last 31 years, including current PGA Tour professional Brendon de Jonge, from the age of five.
“I guarantee you, he would have been a tournament winner on the PGA Tour,” legendary Zimbabwean golfer Nick Price told Golf Digest following Chitengwa Jr’s death. “He had determination and intensity, and he had a great short game. Guys with great short games win golf tournaments.”
Lewis Chitengwa’s Achievements
l 1992 World Junior Golf Team Championship
l 1992 Eisenhower Cup
l 1999 qualified for the Buy.com tour – first black Zimbabwean to play this tour – also played on US tour events
l Ranked 13th on Canadian Tour when he died
l Canadian Tour annually holds “Lewis Chitengwa Memorial Championships”
l Orange Bowl World Junior Championship 1992 (three shot victory over Tiger Woods)
l Zimbabwe Men’s Amateur 1992, 93, 94
l South African Amateur 1993 – first black golfer to win (beat current PGA Tour golfer Rory Sabbatini in the final)
l USA Eastern Amateur tournament 1993 top 10
l Top Inter-Collegiate player 1995
l USA Furman Intercollegiate 1996
l NCAA Long Driving Contest 1996 – beat Tiger Woods
l USA Seminole Classic 1997
l Canadian Tour 2001 – six top ten finishes in a row (then passed away)