Zimbabwe’s young amateur golf team might have missed out on a podium finish at the All Africa Amateur Golf Team Championships in Egypt last week but Zimbabwe Golf Association (ZGA) believes there is every reason to be optimistic about the future of local golf.
The local team, which was the youngest in the continental competition played in Egypt’s resort town of El Gouna from Tuesday to Friday, settled for sixth position out of the 15 participating nations.
Zimbabwe’s young side was captained by the gifted 16-year-old rising star Keegan Shutt, who overcame food poisoning to finish in a tie for sixth position on the individual leaderboard on a good total of seven-under-par-281.
The other members of the team included 18-year-old Clive Muchenje, Munashe Chatora, who is only 15, and 21-year-old Munashe Ndaruza, who also struggled with food poisoning during the week, but fought hard to finish 25th on the individual standings.
The Zimbabwean quartet, who were locked in a fierce battle with hosts Egypt for a fifth-place finish finally came up short on the final day after combining for a four-over-par-219 for a tournament total of 21-over-par-885.
They finished just three strokes behind fifth-placed Egypt while Tunisia was fourth on 854. Morocco finally dethroned perennial winners South Africa to claim their first victory in the biennial tournament on a total of 44-under-par-820, eight shots clear of their nearest rivals while Kenya settled for third position.
ZGA president Martin Chikwana, who accompanied the team during their participation at the All Africa Golf Team Championship, said the future of local golf is very bright after the young team put on a decent show against most of their continental rivals who fielded very experienced sides.
“Given that we took a very young team to Egypt, I’m quite impressed by the amount of dedication, the desire to do well that the team showed,” Chikwana told ZimSportLive in an interview.
“We fielded the youngest team in the entire tournament and we were playing against teams with very mature characters representing their countries and given the direction we want to go this was quite a very fruitful event and I’m sure the youngsters have learned quite a lot and we have a very bright future ahead of us,” he said.
The seasoned Bulawayo-based golf administrator also revealed how the team was affected by food poisoning with team captain Shutt missing the practice round altogether while Ndaruza almost withdrew from the competition ahead of the third round.
“It’s also important to consider that we had several bouts of food poisoning. Unfortunately the captain Keegan Shutt fell sick from food poisoning so he didn’t practice at all it was a setback for us but come Tuesday morning he was ready to go and shot two under-par. Clive on the second day wasn’t feeling well, again from food poisoning, and we were worried that he wouldn’t be able to play on the fourth day but he was determined to represent his country and he went and shot a very beautiful 70. So despite the challenges that the young boys faced, they showed quite a gritty spirit and the desire to represent their country. I can only say the future bodes well for Zimbabwe golf,” he said.