Malawi golfers urged to work hard to break into professional top ranks

From a field of 156 professional golfers, Malawians Paul Chidale and Victor Kachepatsonga were in the top 70 on Day 1 of the Kenya KCB Karen Masters tournament that took place from June 27-30 in Nairobi.

The champion Toto Thimba from South Africa
Chidale in action

According to Malawi Professional Golfers Association (PGAMW) President Patridge Shycal, who was leader of delegation, the tour required 60 players to qualify after first two days and make the cut into the next round for Saturday and Sunday.

“Our two Malawi golfers played well on the first day and finished in the top 70 but failed to sail through on second day after posting unsatisfactory scores. Paul shot +4 on Day 1 while Victor shot +2.

“Day 2 is called a chasing day as every player fights to earn a spot in the money to make the cut. It is the the most mentally tormenting day which saw Paul dropping extra 9 shots to finish +11 and Victor 13 shots to cut his hopes for making the cut wit +15 cumulative.

“Of the 60 that made the cut, eight were Kenyans, one Zambian, one Namibian while South Africa dominated the cut with over 40 players.”

Shycal said Malawian golfers as well as other indigenous Africans still have a long way to go to make it into the professional golf stardom because of  lack of proper coaching and necessary facilities for training.

“This remains a big challenge for our African players. Not many black Africans posted high scores but most whites who also rank high. Our players needs proper coaching especially on the mental game but also more game time to gain experience.

“Most of the South African white players have played more professional games than our black Africans. Even from the hosts, not even a single black Kenyan is in the top 10. Last year, only two Kenyans qualified into the top 60 players and while this year eight players have made the cut; a quiet impressive performance for Kenya as the hosts.”

Meanwhile, Shycal has written a vote of thanks to Malawian Airlines for sponsoring three return air tickets for the three to participate at the Karen Masters.

“As PGA Malawi, we are so much indebted to Malawian Airlines for the generosity and patriotism displayed by sponsoring our athletes to take part in such a prestigious tournament.

“The experience gained by our players at this year’s prestigious KCB Karen Masters tour is profound and will go a long way in building their career.As the leader of delegation, I wish to assure Malawian Airlines that the trip was a worthwhile pursuit as it also helped the players to experience the tour impression at that high-level platform.

“So far, the players will go back to the drawing board to analyse their experience gained and strategize on how to better their game,” Shycal said.

Malawian Airlines also donated an air ticket to Chidale for him to play at the Safari Tour also in Nairobi, that took place in February.

East African Community in Malawi also assisted the golfers with sponsorship for accommodation, local transportation costs and upkeep allowances.

East African Community in Malawi is a regional intergovernmental organization of six partner states — the Republics of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania under the guardianship of the Tanzania High Commission to Malawi which is headed by Benedicto Mashiba.

PGAMW was established in December 2017 and has already made swift strides in its effort to be the leading professional golf body in Malawi and the southern African region and just last November it successful hosted the first ever-professional golf Tour at Lilongwe Golf Club which dubbed ‘The Warm Heart Pro Tour’.

It attracted 63 golfers from eight African countries and Europe namely Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Eswatini, Namibia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Portugal.

Early January, a delegation of PGAMW was in Kenya on a partnership and learning tour with the view of having Malawi professionals to be invited to play in the Professional Golfers of Kenya (PGK) and the  Safari Tour which is organised by the Kenya Open Golf Limited (KOGL).

For many years, Malawian golfers have been playing as amateurs and that status forbid them from receiving cash prizes but they were entitled to material prizes like golf-related equipment, television sets, microwaves, trophies and other prizes.

But now PGAMW want golfers to earn their salaries from playing golf as it is done in other countries. The Warm Heart Pros Tour is one of the two international tours the association pledges to be hosting annually apart from the local tournaments.

Chidale and Kachepatsonga will also take part in preparatory games in  Harare, Zimbabwe during this week and the last week of July before taking part in another major Sunshine Tour in September 2019 in  Kampala, Uganda.

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