RISING star Benjamin Follet-Smith continued his solid start to professional golf after capturing his second title on the Zimbabwe Professional Golfers Association (ZPGA) Tour following a one shot victory at the $20 000 Harare Open golf tournament at Chapman Golf Club yesterday.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Harare Open champion Benjamin Follet-Smith (right) poses for a picture with runner-up Tonderai Masunga
The 21-year-old carded a final round one-under-par 71 on the 6 521-metre par-72 layout for a three under par 141 total to hold off overnight leader Jack Allard and Tonderai Masunga by one stroke.
Follet-Smith, who will seek to successfully defend his National Aids Council Pro-Am tournament at Royal Harare Golf Club next weekend, walked away with $3 025,75 winners’ prize — not bad for a two-day job.
While he was delighted with the win, Follet-Smith who is known to set very high standards for himself, feels there is still room for improvement in his game ahead of next week’s title defence.
“The first round went pretty much the way I had planned it but unfortunately I didn’t play my best golf throughout the week but overall it worked out and I managed to win by one shot which is what we came here for,” he said.
“I’d love to have played much better so I’ll definitely be going to the practice range and prepare a little harder for next week and hopefully we can get better scores next weekend.
“I didn’t think three under was going to be enough. I was thinking four under maybe but I’ll take three-under if it’s going to give me a win at the end of the day.
Follet-Smith says the windy conditions played a big factor during the tournament following seasonal blistering winds during the 36-hole.
“I found it even more windy today so overall it’s been good to get some experience of playing in those conditions over the two days we don’t often play in winds like this,” he said.
After starting the second round two shots off the lead and putting pressure on the overnight leader Allard, Follet-Smith also needed some stroke of luck towards the end.
He made a crucial birdie on the 16th despite his approach shot coming off the trees before making a clutch par putt on the 18th after his over four iron shot from 240 metres came off the stairs at the Chapman clubhouse and safely back into the fairway.
Former national team amateur golfer Masunga shot the lowest round of the day after rebounding from a 77 on the first day to card a brilliant seven-under-par 65 which lifted him into a share for second position.
The trio of top amateur David Amm, Ryan Cairns and Robson Chinhoi was tied for fourth position on level par 144.
A strong field of 60 professional and amateur golfers took part in the Harare City Council-sponsored tournament that bounced back on the ZPGA Tour circuit after a three-year hiatus.