11th April 2018 | Sunshine Tour
Zanaco Masters: What’s what
Different name, same tournament. The Zanaco Masters at Lusaka Golf Club in Zambia from April 12-15 used to be the Zambia Sugar Open, and its new name clears up confusion between it and the Mopani Redpath Zambia Open at the end of the month.
The tournament was started in 2014, and, with a prize-fund of R2-million, this fifth playing of the event, with new sponsors at the helm, is an exciting way for the Sunshine Tour to kick off its 2018-19 season.
The inaugural event was won by Lyle Rowe. The 2015 champion was Vaughn Groenewald, and Sweden’s Christoffer Blomstrand took the title in 2016.
Last year, Oliver Bekker finished 19-under-par to defeat Jared Harvey by two shots.
144 players – the full list here
The defending champion
Oliver Bekker (not playing)
The Lusaka Golf Club is probably Zambia’s most prestigious sporting facility, attracting a good cross section of golfing nationalities to Zambia. It boasts an 18-hole, par-73, 6,608-metre course that is intricately incorporated into a parkland setting.
It will be played as a par-72 this week, with the 13th hole changed up into a par-four instead of a five.
The greens are “a little patchy as usual”, says an insider, but they will be pushed to nine on the stimp during the week and that will make for interesting golf.
The form player
Justin Harding nearly pulled off a win in the last tournament of the 2017018 season. That was less than a month ago, so there’s no reason to believe he will have lost that touch. He’s also won in Zambia, back in 2012, so he knows what it takes to get the job done in Lusaka.
The sentimental pick
Madalitso Muthiya (pictured) is a Lusaka local, and nothing would make the Zambian golf fans happier than if their best player can pull off a victory on home soil. He was 26th last year, but he has a best performance of a share of second in a previous version of the tournament way back in 2006.
Kyle McClatchie has just turned pro, and, in a few tournaments at the end of the last season, showed he has the game to mix it with just about anyone. Much will depend on how he adapts to the beginning of a new season, and to the grind that lies ahead. But smart money says he takes to it all like a duck to water.
There won’t be any live coverage of the tournament, or a highlights package, but Sunshine Tour Weekly will have footage from the Zanaco Masters next Wednesday.