United STATES-BASED Zimbabwean golfer Scott Vincent warmed up for the upcoming Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open in style after earning playing status on the Canadian PGA Tour for the upcoming season.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Vincent earned conditional status on the tour by tying for 22nd place at the tour’s Qualifying-School, held last week at the Jack Nicklaus Signature Course at the Reunion Resort in Kissimmee, Florida.
The Canadian Tour which is also known as Mackenzie Tour gets underway on May 26 with the Freedom 55 Financial Open, to be played at the Point Grey Golf and Country Club in Vancouver in British Columbia.
However, Vincent’s immediate attention will be on the upcoming Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open where he will be hoping to become the first home grown winner since the tournament’s return on the Sunshine Tour schedule in 2010.
No locally-bred golfer has won the prestigious Zimbabwe Open title since 2000 when Mark McNulty’s 19-under-par 269 gave him the coveted title at Royal Harare Golf Club.
Since then, South African golfers have dominated the tournament, winning it every time on all occasions it has been held.
Marc Cayeux came closest to break the jinx after his finished third place in 2010 before his horrific injury later that year while Tongo Charamba managed a top 10 finish in 2014.
Mutare-born Dean Burmester won last year’s edition although he is no longer considered a Zimbabwe as he competes under the South African flag.
However, Vincent’s impressive start to his professional golfer career since turning professional last year has raised hopes of a first home-grown winner since the turn of the millennium.
Vincent started the year on a high by claiming a wire-to-wire victory at the Asian Tour’s First Stage Qualifying School held in Bangkok, Thailand in January.
The Chapman Golf Club golfer recorded rounds of 65, 66, 66 and 66 at the Windsor Park Golf Club to triumph by a massive nine shots on an impressive total of 25-under-par 263.
Last month Vincent finished in a tie for fourth position at the South African PGA Championship which attracted some of the biggest names in South African golf.
The former St Johns College student has fond memories of his last professional tournament at Royal Harare Golf Club after winning the Zambezi Tour Pro Challenge on his pro debut in June last year.
His biggest win thus far came on the Swing Thought Tour (formerly Hooters Tour), a developmental circuit renowned for preparing upcoming professional golfers for life on the US PGA and Web.com Tours.
Zimbabwe’s premier golf event, the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open, will tee off from April 14 -17 at Royal Harare Golf Club with a lucrative prize fund of R 1 800 000 (nearly US$122 000 as of yesterday).
The pre-qualifier for the non-exempt players will be held on April 11.
The Zimbabwe Open was first played in 1984 and was part of what was known as the Safari Tour, a collection of events in Africa that were played by professionals based on the European Tour during their winter.
As a result, it became an event on the European-based Challenge tour in 1991, where it remained for two seasons before moving onto the FNB Summer Tour, which became the Southern Africa Tour and later the Sunshine Tour.
As it was held in the weeks preceding the Nedbank Golf Challenge, the tournament attracted some of the world’s leading players, who used it as warm-up to the big money invitational. Past winners include Fijian legend Vijay Singh and Zimbabwean greats Nick Price and McNulty.
Price and McNulty, now-naturalised Irishmen are the most successful golfers in the history of the tournament, both men having recorded three victories.