The Zambia Open championship is back on the Sunshine Tour calendar and will take place at Ndola Golf Club from August 27-30.
“We could not afford to have a year go by without having the Open,” said Zambian Golf Union president Joe Malanji of the event which had to be postponed in March.
Sunshine Tour commissioner Gareth Tindall was also pleased the event had been saved: “It goes down to the commitment of the staff and the loyalty of the sponsors,” he said, “and we have not only managed to rescue the tournament, but we have actually managed to increase the prize money.”
The prize fund has increased from R750,000 to R800,000 for the 54-hole tournament which will be preceded on August 27 by a pro-am event.
And the battle for 10 slots allocated for local amateur golfers begins this weekend at Ndola Golf Club with the staging of the Zambia Amateur Closed Championship. A field of 90 amateurs will play 36-holes to make the national team which will get entry into the Zambia Open.
There will also be space reserved for five Zambian professionals in the 144-man field, the rest of which will be made up of Sunshine Tour players.
ZGU secretary Charles Mwanza has said that Ndola would be ready to host a professional tournament, saying that everything was going on as scheduled and that the course was now in good shape after intensive work.
Ndola will now increase watering of the greens to ensure they were in perfect condition during the Zambia Open.
Defending champion at the Zambia Open is Tyrone Ferreira, who had his maiden pro victory at Chainama Hills in Lusaka last year. He closed with a three-over 75 in tough, windy conditions to defeat Charl Coetzee and Divan van den Heever by two strokes.
The top Zambian finisher was Kelvin Phiri in a share of 26th with a two-over total of 218.