By Duncan Mlanjira
Top South African professional golfer, Irvin Mazibuko — who is former Sunshine Tour champion — has confirmed his participation as guest player for the SeedCo Lilongwe Golf Open that tees-off on Friday, October 13.
Mazibuko, who will be joined by compatriot James Mapunda from Pretoria Country Club, is expected to jet into the country through Kamuzu International Airport on Thursday through Malawian Airlines, courtesy of the sponsors, SeedCo Malawi.
Information gathered on South African website, Solo Management, says Mazibuko learnt golf from a tender age of 11 while serving as a caddie at the Soweto Country Club.
The report says, inspired by the sport, Mazibuko fell in love with the game and since then it was his dream to become a professional golfer.
He played in his first Inter-Provincial U-23 event in 1997 and successfully retained his position in the team for a further two years.
He gained valuable experience as an amateur that prompted him to turn Pro in 2000 and has been a Sunshine Tour member ever since in which a top 10 finish early in his career, served to highlight his true potential.
He went on to play in the Nelson Mandela Invitational in 2003 and enjoyed a fruitful 2012 on the Big Easy Tour, where he finished in the Top 30 on the Order of Merit that earned him his playing rights for the following year.
“With Irvin’s limited success on the tour over the last couple of years, his golfing talent has gone unnoticed,” Solo Management. “Despite lacking a golfing support structure that most professional golfers are accustomed to, Irvin has not lost faith, nor sight of his dream to be a successful South African golfing professional to whom many other young South Africans may aspire.”
His appearance is expected to motivate up-and-coming Malawian professionals to work hard to reach the status of the likes of Mazibuko.
Malawian pros set to compete for honoured are Chris Mzokomera; Simon Moses; James Shonga (all Blantyre Sports Club); Rashid Salim (Country Club Limbe) and seven from the hosts Lilongwe Golf Club — Patridge Shycal; Paul Chidale; Victor Kachepatsonga; Adam Sailesi; Cosmas Mweniwawo; Gabriel Kambalame and Kenan Paul.
The foreign pros from Zambia are Morton Muwowo (Nkana Golf Club); Mwalikwa Sondashi (Chibuluma/Nkana) and Aaron Musonda (Chinama Golf Club while amateurs are Sydney Wemba Jnr (Lusaka Golf Club); Sondashi Mwalikwa (Kalulushi Golf Club); Aaron Musonda (Chainama Hills Golf Club) and Patrick Mwendapole (Chilanga Golf Club).
Pros from Zimbabwe are Tonderayi Masunga (Wingate Golf Club); Mketekete Ignatius (ZPGA); Liberty Gumisa (Gweru Golf Club); Howard Bauti and Pride Sembo (both Chapman Golf Club).
Their amateurs are David Stobbelaar; Chinhoi Robson (Royal Harare); Nevy Milazi (Falcon 1464) and Jealous Nguringa (Borrowdale Brooke).
SeedCo — a leading supplier of superior crop seeds of maize hybrid, soya beans, groundnuts, sugar beans and vegetables in Malawi and the southern Africa — has offered a cash purse of US$5,000 in the professional category.
Day 1 of the tournament on Friday from 11am will be a combined field of pros and amateurs in Champion Division in a stroke-play format, while Day 2 and 3 will have the pros, Championship as well as Division A & B.
SeedCo Malawi’s Managing Director, Boyd Luwe said they thought of increasing the hype of the tournament this year through this offering special prize purse for the pros considering that they earn their living through playing golf and hence their only source of income.
For many years, Malawian golfers have been playing as amateurs, a status that forbids them from receiving cash prizes in accordance to the Royal & Ancient (R&A) Golf Club Rule 3, sub-rule 2 Prize Limits — which says amateur golfer must not accept a prize (other than a symbolic prize) or prize voucher of retail value in excess of £500 or the equivalent, or such a lesser figure as may be decided by the governing body.
This limit applies to the total prizes or prize vouchers received by an amateur golfer in any one competition or series of competitions except in hole-in-one prize where an amateur golfer may accept a prize in excess of the limit in Rule 3-2a, including a cash prize, for making a hole-in-one during a round of golf on a golf course.
PGAMW was then formed in a bid to help top notch golfers earn money from playing golf as it is done in world over.
PGAMW firstly hosted the Warm Heart Pros Tour two years ago which attracted over 70 professionals from over 8 countries and pledged to be hosting annually apart from other local mini-tournaments.
Meanwhile, PGAMW has signed a 3-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Wildlife on the hosting of the Warm Heart Pros Tour event.