Tsvangirai Officially Opens Golf Open

A tee off is the official beginning of the tournament, which ends on Saturday.

This is the first time the Prime Minister has officiated at a prestigious sporting event since the signing of a Global Political Agreement.

President Robert Mugabe normally presides over most sporting events. However, the organisers of the Zimbabwe Open, decided to  invite Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai teed off in the pro-am at Royal Harare as the Africom Zimbabwe Open roared into life. He immediately commended the Zimbabwe Open Golf Committee, for a sterling job, given the short period of time that they managed to put this event together.

 A field of 144 golfers will play in the revived Zimbabwe Open ,with some top professional golfers, Tony Johstone and Mike Williams who left Zimbabwe at the height of political upheaval, entering the event.

Livingstone Gwata, the managing director FBC Bank and the Zimbabwe Open chairman, said 141 professional would take part in the tournament running from April 21 -24.

The largest number of the golfers will come from the Southern African circuit, the Sunshine Tour, which are bringing 130 golfers. They will play in the Sunshine Tour sanctioned tournament by virtue of their Order of Merit on the tour.The other golfers are composed of professionals and amateurs who qualified throught the various qualifying tournaments.

However it is coming entrance of Johnstone who has six European and 22 US tour victories that bring Zimbabwe under the spotlight. The Bulawayo based golfers left the country at the height of the political upheaval in 2000 when the Zanu (PF) grabbed farms from white commercial farmers.

The Zimbabwe Open was a golf tournament on the Sunshine Tour that was last played in 2001. It was first played in 1984 and was part of what was known as the Safari Tour, a collection of events in Africa that were played by professionals based on the European Tour during their winter. As a result, it became an event on the European based Challenge Tour in 1991, where it remained for two seasons before moving onto the FNB Summer Tour, which became the Southern Africa Tour and later the Sunshine Tour.