Paul Chidale has become the country’s second golfer after the late Gilliam Kapito to turn professional following his nomination as a tour-pro by the Golf Union of Malawi (GUoM).
This means the handicap-three golfer has automatically qualified for continental events sanctioned by Sunshine Tour such as the Zambia Open, which will be the first tour contest this year scheduled for Lusaka between April 24 and 28.
Following the development, according to immediate past GUoM president Gabriel Kambale, Chidale will be able to make ends meet through his participation in professional contests and will no longer be eligible for prizes in domestic competitions, which are rated as amateur events.
In spite of that, he will be required to go through qualifiers to take part in other tour events that need more than just being a tour card holder to contest.
“Chidale is now a full professional golfer. GUoM nominated him to Sunshine Tour after the local top golfers came up with his name. He went to South Africa for a week-long orientation and he is on his way back home,” Kambale said.
“GUoM will be partly supporting him financially, but such responsibility is mainly in the hands of his sponsors Lab Enterprises Limited and others that might wish to help. If he performs well in competitions, he stands a chance of winning millions of kwacha and we hope he will be able to plough back into the country.”
Chidale could not be reached for comment as he was reportedly travelling back home alongside the country’s other top golfers Victor Kachepatsonga and Adam Sailesi, who failed to make the grade during the initial 2017/2018 Sunshine Tour Qualifying School event at the Kayilane Golf Course in Johannesburg last week.
On his part, Lab Enterprises managing director Noel Lipipa said they will continue supporting Chidale and he hoped that the golfer will fight his own battles by being among top10 golfers in events to be financially stable.
According to the golfer’s manager Dingaan Chirwa, Kachepatsonga and Sailesi’s performance at the qualifying school earned them +35 and +36 ratings, respectively, to fall short of the qualifying standard, which was +17 and below.
At least 118 golfers made it to the next round of the qualifying event and they were expected to compete for the final 40 slots yesterday.
Chirwa said: “Had Kachepatsonga and Sailesi not fell out of the qualifying brackets, they could have a tour card to be invited to prestigious continental tours. But now, they can only contest in lower ranked tours where they will be requiring special qualifiers.”