Zimbabwean golfers impress at inaugural Africa Amateur Championship

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Matthew Bramford

Despite narrowly missing out on the coveted title to neighbours South Africa, Zimbabwean junior golfers put on an impressive show in the inaugural Africa Amateur Championship which was played out at the world-renowned Leopard Creek Golf Course in Mpumalanga on Saturday.

South Africa’s Altin van der Merwe emerged victorious following a three-way play-off against his compatriots Christiaan Maas and Ivan Verster after the trio finished deadlocked on 13-under-par in regulation play.

The 27-year-old has earned exemptions into The 152nd Open at Royal Troon, The Amateur Championship, the Alfred Dunhill Championship and the Waterfall City Tournament of Champions powered by Attacq.

Zimbabwe’s Matthew Bramford split the pack of South Africans at the top of the leaderboard with a final round 68 to finish three shots further back on ten-under-par.

19-year-old Bramford, who recently moved to South Africa to attend golf school at Bramble Hill and has committed to playing college golf with Friends University in Kansas, led the field in the opening round.

It was also a memorable week at Leopard Creek for Bramford’s fellow countryman Keegan Shutt after he claimed the course record with a remarkable ten-under-par 62 in the final round.

World number one ranked player Maas had a day earlier set the new course record with 63, which Shutt broke less than 24 hours later.

Starting on the tenth tee, the 17-year-old made six birdies on his front nine before following up with shots picked up on his 11th and 12th holes and then a brilliant eagle on the 15th.

“I’m buzzing, words can’t express it,” exclaimed Shutt, who finished in a tie for eighth

“I don’t know how I kept my nerves today, especially coming up to the closing holes. I’m just really glad that I held it together. This is my best round of golf competitively and a 62 at this amazing course at Leopard Creek tops everything. Before the day, I would never have imagined being in this position. I’m just so happy that I managed to do it.”

Another Zimbabwean Tanaka Chatora also enjoyed a solid after finishing in 12th position on four over-par.

Meanwhile, US-based Margret Nyamukondiwa finished as the highest-placed Zimbabwean in the 54-hole Africa Amateur Women’s Invitational in position nine following scores of 81, 71 and 75 for a total 19-over par.

South Africa’s Kyra van Kan was crowned the inaugural Africa Amateur Women’s Invitational champion following a nine-shot win over compatriot Bobbi Brown to clinch the title on a one-under-par total of 215.

Kudzai Mandava finished two places below her compatriot in  11th after carding rounds of 82, 82 and 77 for a total of 25-over while Primross Chikwaya retired after the first round.

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