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21st May 2023

Chinhoi wins Zanaco Masters in playoff

LUSAKA, Zambia Zimbabwe’s Robson Chinhoi has won a couple of times on the Safari Tour, but on Sunday he clinched his first title of global significance when he won the Zanaco Masters at Lusaka Golf Club in a playoff over Neil Schietekat, in just his 11th Sunshine Tour start.

Chinhoi, who began the day two shots off the lead, put himself in contention by collecting two birdies in a bogey-free front nine, and then claimed the lead with three more birdies on the back nine, before a pulled drive saw him bogey the 17th and then only make par on the par-five final hole, leaving him with a 68 for 17-under-par for the tournament.

That was enough to get him into a playoff though, with Schietekat, the winner of the previous event on the Sunshine Tour, the FBC Zimbabwe Open a fortnight ago. Schietekat was six-under for his final round through 13 holes, roaring up the leaderboard, but he then made a crucial bogey on the par-four 14th hole and then could only par his way in to the clubhouse.

The pair played the 515-metre 18th hole again in the playoff and the 32-year-old Chinhoi produced an excellent tee-shot that left him 207 metres from the green. From there he hit a seven-iron short of the green, made sure he left his chip below the hole on the hard green, and calmly slotted a five-foot putt for birdie to claim the title, as the experienced Schietekat could only make par.

“I am just so grateful, I thank God, for this victory because it puts my name on the map,” a delighted Chinhoi said. “This win will be life and game-changing for me. I was getting tired of being in my comfort zone, I wanted to go away and play at another level. I managed to lift my game and this week has changed everything.”

While Chinhoi was superb off the tee on Sunday, he putted with computer-like accuracy under the pressure of the final round and a large crowd of contenders.

Young Ryan van Velzen birdied the 18th hole to finish with the clubhouse lead on 16-under and then faced an anxious wait, but Chinhoi and Schietekat did not drop any further strokes, leaving the 21-year-old alone in third place.

Stefan Wears-Taylor was also in contention but then bogeyed the last to post a 69 that left him on 15-under, a score matched by Sean Bradley, who had reached 16-under by the 10th hole, but then had seven straight pars and a bogey to finish.

Rupert Kaminski (65) and Trevor Fisher Jnr (66) were the other golfers to share fourth place on 15-under-par.