Only the brave put their money on a debutant. Golf expert Ian Richards was bold about the Augusta visit last year, declaring that it was impossible to get a surprise. “Don’t back any player who is a debutant at Augusta — it is a well-documented fact Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 remains the only player to win on his first visit,” Richards was quoted by National Club Golfer as saying.
“It comes as no great surprise as it is a course which a player needs to know before performing well on. With so many nuances it is unlike any other course,” he added.
It may not have been at Augusta, but Benjamin Follet-Smith made a mockery of that assertion at Royal Harare Golf Club.
He was certainly going against the grain at the 2017 National Aids Council of Zimbabwe HIV and Cancer Prevention Drive Pro-Amm Golf tournament, winning the title on first attempt.
And it didn’t matter there were some established regional names, including defending champion Stephen Ferreira who had also just won the Uganda Open.
The Mississippi State University graduate carded 64, 67, 71 for a tournament 14 under par.
“The win has given me confidence considering that this was my first attempt. I will continue working hard and from next year I hope I will be talking a different story,” Follet-Smith said.
“I have been working hard and the win is a massive boost for me, I will travel to Abidjan for their Open tournament and then see what will happen. I am also looking forward to taking in several Asian tour campaigns so that I try and get their tour card as well.”
Second-placed Ferreira managed 70, 70, 71 for a tournament 5 under par. Simon Katambenuka was tied on third along with Zambian Mudalitso Muthiya.
Trynos Muradzikwa was fourth while Gary Thompson was fifth.
“Judging by the scores, there has been a great improvement in the local game pro golf scene from their work ethic to their positive attitudes. They seem focused and determined and the scores reflect,” organisers concluded.
With more exposure in different tournaments, Follet-Smith could fly high in his professional career.
In the Sunshine Tour, Mark Williams, Ryan Cairns and Mohammad Rauf Mandhu was part of the entries of the Vodacom Origins of Golf tournament at Sishen which was set for October 12 to 14.
Jacques Blaauw was the defending champion, having won it in an exciting finish, a play-off with Theunis Spangenberg.
Meanwhile, whatever happens at Elephant Hills, in the ongoing All Africa golf championships, it is a proud moment for the country.
By participation, the championships, for top amateur golfers, are the biggest. It could have been bigger had some teams not pulled out last minute.