WITH only a few days before the inaugural Zambia Sugar Open Championship tees off in Lusaka, the Zambia Golf Union (ZGU) has vowed to only pick quality local players to represent the nation in the R1.2 million-rich (about K780,000) event.
ZGU president Charles Mwanza said the union would not just play all the local golfers who participated in the just-ended Mopani Copper Mines Zambia Open Championship in Kitwe and embarrass the nation.
Mwanza said in an interview from Johannesburg, South Africa yesterday that ZGU would decide on who should play in the prestigious tournament at Lusaka Golf Club set for June 3-8 and ensure only the best featured for Zambia.
“ZGU will make a decision this week on who should play in the Zambia Sugar Open. We will not play everybody and embarrass the nation. This time, we will pick quality and not quantity. We won’t mind if we just feature five quality players because this is national pride at stake,” he said.
At the Mopani Zambia Open, only Ndola professional Dayne Moore made the cut out of 26 local golfers who entered for the event that saw Zambia featuring 12 professionals and 14 amateur golfers.
While Zambia is yet to pick the best local players, top campaigners on tournament authorities, Sunshine Tour’s circuit will be heading to Lusaka lead by newly-crowned Mopani Zambia Open champion, Wallie Coetsee.
“I was not planning to come back but now I will be back and try to win the Zambia Sugar Open Championship. Zambia seems to be a good hunting ground for me,” Coetsee, whose last Sunshine Tour victory was in 1997, said in an interview after winning the Mopani sponsored event.
Dethroned Zambia Open champion, Adilson Da Silva will also be back to try and outdo Coetsee at the Zambia Sugar Open.
Apart from the R1.2 million prize money, the golfers will also fight for the three motor vehicles dangled for the sharp-shooters who will sink a hole-in-one on three short holes on the Lusaka course.
A set of tyres from Goodyear will also be up for grabs for any golfer who will sink an eagle on the 18th. And Mwanza has paid tribute to title sponsors, Zambia Sugar for committing $450,000 over three years as sponsorship for the tournament, the second local event after the Zambia Open proper, on the Sunshine Tour calendar. The ZGU president said Zambia Sugar’s gesture was a good 50th birthday anniversary gift to Zambia and local golf adding that his union was thankful for the role the firm has played in the growth of the sport in the country.
Zambia Sugar has also pumped a lot of money in the uplifting of the standards at the Mazabuka Golf Club.
Mwanza also said ZGU had been closely monitoring the preparations at Lusaka Golf Club and were happy with the remarkable progress made.
“We are confident that we will have a good and memorable tournament,” he added.
Story By FELIX MALUNGA
Times of Zambia.