Johannesburg - All eyes will be on South African Lyle Rowe when the Zimbabwe Open golf tournament gets going at the Royal Harare Golf Club on Thursday.
Rowe maintained focus on his game into the final day at last year’s edition, which was played on the same course. His diligence paid off when he finished at 11-under-par 277 – two shots ahead of compatriot Dylan Frittelli.
The 29-year-old Port Elizabeth-born player carded a five-under-par 67 in the final round to claim his second Sunshine Tour since his debut success at the Zambia Open in 2014.
Rowe played with consistency for the duration of the competition on the tough Harare course last year and he chipped and putted admirably throughout. His flawless game ultimately earned him the silverware.
He is looking to repeat his conquest at this year’s event by making a successful title defence.
“It’s great to get another chance to play at the same tournament where I was victorious the last time around, and where the crowds were particularly impressed by my showing on the fairways,” said Lyle.
“I’m aware that the course layout has been changed this year to make the course tougher than it was last year, but I’m determined to make a successful title defence.”
One of the oldest events on the Sunshine Tour, this year’s competition – with a R1.8 million purse – will see top South African players in the mix, including Dean Burmester, who won the tournament in 2015 with -18, and Jbe’ Kruger, who triumphed in 2014 with -16.
Competitors will also be trying to break the record that was set by former world number one, Zimbabwe’s Nick Price, who carded -22 in this event in 1995.
Price, who has been inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, won three majors in his career – the PGA Championship in 1992 and 1994, and the British Open in 1994.
Other players who will be out to make names for themselves in the par 72 course include Zimbabweans Marc Cayeux, Mark Williams and Madalitso Muthiya.