ZIMBABWE’S top-ranked amateur golfer, David Amm will have a rare opportunity of playing alongside the reigning Zimbabwe Open champion, Lyle Rowe from South Africa in the first two rounds of the R1,8 million Sunshine Tour co-sanctioned event, which tees off at Royal Harare Golf Club this morning.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Amm, who three years ago made history by becoming the youngest ever player to qualify for the Zimbabwe Open Championship aged just 14 years old, is one of the five local amateurs, who qualified automatically in the star-studded field of 156 players.
The 17-year-old teenage star from Chapman Golf Club will tee off alongside Rowe and Swedish Jonathan Agren at 11:36 in what he believes will be a golden opportunity to learn from the seasoned Sunshine Tour professionals.
“It’s definitely very cool. It’s always nice when you get a good draw and it doesn’t get better than having to play with top professionals, it motivates you as a player to play well too,” Amm told NewsDay Sport yesterday.
“I’m really looking forward to the experience and the exposure and I’m just going to learn everything that I can from the whole experience.”
Amm said his target this year was to finish as the highest-placed amateur golfer, an accolade which was last year won by US-based Kieran Vincent.
“Last year, I managed to make the cut and I hope I will do that again this year, my game is pretty good. I’m playing pretty well at the moment and my target is to finish as the best amateur, but at the same time I just want to go out there and enjoy myself and play some good golf,” he said.
While Amm will have focus on the amateur title, his playing partner, Rowe will go into this year’s Zimbabwe Open, hoping to achieve what no other golfer has managed to do since the tournament returned on the Sunshine Tour calendar in 2010.
Not since Zimbabwean golf legend Nick Price won back-to-back Zimbabwe Open titles in 1997 and 1998 at Royal Harare Golf Club and Chapman Golf Club, respectively, has any player managed to defend the national open.
However, Rowe, who took the title last year with a tournament total of 11-under-par, giving him a two-stroke edge over compatriot Dylan Frittelli, will feel he has a strong chance of managing to do what others have failed.
The two-time winner on the Sunshine Tour always seems to bring his best when playing in Zimbabwe and Zambia.
“I seem to enjoy these tournaments on the ‘African swing’,” he said. “It’s just the whole feeling of the events, the way that they’re run and the people, who come and support them — it’s nice having people to come and watch and it’s nice to play well in front of them.”
Rowe is one of the four former Zimbabwe Open champions in the field together with Theunis Spangenberg, Chris Swanepoel and Jake Roos.
Zimbabwe’s hopes of a first home winner since the tournament’s return on the Sunshine Tour schedule will lie with the duo of Ryan Cairns and Mark Williams, who are part of a contingent of 28 local professionals and qualifying amateurs.
Williams is fresh from his best-ever season on the Sunshine Tour, where he finished an impressive 19th on the Order of Merit Standings after earning his maiden Sunshine Tour at the Vodacom Origins of Golf Final at St Francis Links.
Cairns, who will be looking to continue his gradual return to form since his career-threatening wrist injury in 2014, said he was not putting himself under pressure to do well on his home course.
“I think over the last few years I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself coming into the week, which is natural because I grew up here and I know all the staff and everyone here since I was 10 years old.
“However, this week I’m trying to steer clear of that and lower my expectations a bit and just hope to play nicely.
I’ve been playing well and I am just going to enjoy myself and have a lot of fun with my dad,” he said.