BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
RISING Zimbabwean golfing star Benjamin Follet-Smith is eager to capitalise on his return to good form as he seeks a strong start to the 2022 European Tour season which tees off in South Africa next month.
Follet-Smith enjoyed a winning return on the local professional golf circuit with a confidence-boosting victory in the National Aids Council (NAC)-sponsored HIV & Cancer Prevention Drive Pro-Am Golf Tournament at Royal Harare Golf Club last Friday.
The 27-year-old, based at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Club, carded a stunning round of three-under par 69 to end the 54-hole event on a total of five-under par 211.
He finished two shots ahead of second-placed Kayyam Mandhu, while the experienced duo of Ryan Cairns and Robson Saurombe finished in a two-way tie for third on 215.
The victory, his second in the NAC Pro Am tournament, came at a time when Follet-Smith had been working hard to regain his confidence after enduring a difficult campaign on the Sunshine Tour this season.
Now the former Mississippi State University golf star is hoping to carry the winning momentum and good form in the upcoming “South African Swing” on the European Tour.
“I wasn’t playing very well on the Sunshine Tour and I came back to Zimbabwe to gain some confidence and remind myself of some good memories. It was obviously a success because I came back and managed to play pretty decent and got the victory,” Follet-Smith told NewsDay Sport from his South African base yesterday.
“I love competing against the guys I grew up with and obviously it makes such a big difference to win.
“Second place is good, but it’s not the same thing as coming across the line as the winner. So it (the win) has built up some confidence for me going forward.”
Follet-Smith, who also has status on the Asian Tour, will have a busy schedule in the next few weeks when he features in a number of high-profile tournaments in South Africa which are co-sanctioned by the lucrative European Tour.
“I’m currently preparing for the SA Open and the Joburg Open and the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek and I will be going to compete on the Asian Tour in January. I’m looking forward to it, my game is in a good space, so my aim is to just stay positive, confident and keep smiling and all should be well,” he said.
Follet-Smith has already shown that he is able to compete against the best in the world after capturing the Cape Town Open three years ago for his maiden win on the Sunshine Tour.
He will be hoping to bring his best in the upcoming ‘South African Swing’ tournaments in South Africa which would help him earn playing status on the European Tour.
The 2022 European Tour season will begin in South Africa next month when the R17,5 million Joburg Open is played at Randpark Golf Club from November 25-28.
The Joburg Open will begin a three-week “South African Swing” on the European Tour, which will be followed by the South African Open Championship (December 2-5) and the Alfred Dunhill Championship (December 9-12).
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