ROBINSON KUNDA, Lusaka
THE prestigious Zambia Sugar Open Golf Championship tees off today at Lusaka Golf Club with a field of 144 golfers drawn from across the world fighting for the top prize.
Defending champion Christofer Blomstrand of Sweden is not competing in this year’s edition and therefore South African JC Ritchie who won the Zimbabwe Open last week is expected to draw the attention.
With the course in a superb condition, the fairways and the greens all looking excellent, it is time for swings and putts for the 144 golfers that want to claim a share of a lucrative R1,600,000 prize money.
The small but tricky Lusaka Golf Club course will be invaded by some of the finest golfers to have ever played on the Sunshine Tour but in the end, only one will walk away with the top prize.
The 2015 Zambia Sugar Open champion Vaughn Groenewald has come back to seek the second success and obviously is one of the top contenders.
The golfers had a feel of the course during the Chivas and Zambia Sugar Pro-Ams, but today there will be no room for errors as all the players want to make a cut.
It’s a perfect platform for Zambian professional golfers led by Madalitso Muthiya and Dayne Moore to at least absorb the pressure from fine foreign golfers and finish in decent positions.
Muthiya failed to make a cut at the Zimbabwe Open while Moore was equal to the task.
“It feels good to play in front of home support. Mentally I am where I want to be. I want to win, not just to make up numbers,” Moore said.
Zambia Sugar Open organising committee chairperson Roy Penney is also optimistic Zambian golfers will put up a decent performance this year.
“I am used to pressure. We are ready for the tournament and certainly hoping for good scores,” Patrick Mwendapole said.
South African golfer Gerard Du Plooy is one of the golfers eyeing the top prize.
“As soon as I got on to the putting green, I felt like it’s more about focusing on the strike. If you are not going to strike it in the middle, then it’s going to deviate off line, so that is something I have been working on,” Du Plooy said in an interview.
Ruan Huysamen, Jacquin Hess and Dwayne Basson will be the first to tee at 06:30 hours and will be followed by Nemanja Savic, Antonio Costa and Jason Smith who will enter the course 10 minutes later.
The first Zambian to tee off will be Sydney Wemba, who starts at 06:50 hours together with Sean Bradley and Matias Calderon.
Muthiya will enter the fray at 07:50 hours and will play alongside Jean Hugo and Ruan de Smidt.
The cut will be made after round two tomorrow and only those that will meet the mark will compete on Saturday and Sunday.