Malawi Ladies Open Golf Championship director Dingaan Chirwa has described the absence of top-rated local female golfers in the elite category of the just-ended as a missed opportunity tourney.
The six-contestant championship category, meant for golfers with a handicap (h/c) of between zero and 12 at Lilongwe Golf Club (LGC) last weekend, had Regina Mwanza (h/c-12) as the only local golfer yet the country boasts of highly rated female golfers such as Deborah Lazalo (h/c-eight) and Roza Mbilizi (h/c-10).
“We could have done better had these two top golfers competed in the elite category,” Chirwa said.
As a result, foreigners took the top-five positions with Tanzanians Angel Eaton (h/c-three) and Vicky Ellias (h/c-six) emerging as champion and runner-up with a gross of 252 and 258, in that order.
The third-place went to Zambian Carol Masisani (h/c-eight), who grossed 265, whereas fourth and fifth positions went to Zimbabweans Loyce Chingono and Aulia Alfazema (h/c-nine), who grossed 268 and 270, respectively. Mwanza settled for the sixth place with a gross of 286.
“It could have been a good experience for our lady golfers to rub shoulders and at least learn a few tricks through playing against some of the best female golfers in Africa,” Chirwa said.
At the three-day competition, Malawi had 69 lady golfers, but most of them contested in the less competitive A and B divisions as they did not meet the requirements for the championship category. At least 11 foreigners turned up.
The 17-year-old Lazalo competed in junior ladies category while Mbilizi was absent due to other commitments.
“Lazalo could have represented us well in the elite category, but it was an oversight on our part that we let her compete in the juniors section. As for Mbilizi, she probably had other commitments elsewhere. But we have missed a big opportunity,”Chirwa said.
Ladies Golf Union of Malawi (LGUoM) general secretary Connie Karuku agreed with Chirwa that it is high time ladies are encouraged to play golf at a tender age so as to produce more female golfers with lower handicaps.
However, Mwanza said despite not settling for the best positions, it was a great experience for her.
“This was a great platform for exposure. It was a great inspiration to line up against some of the best golfers in the continent. I hope to do better next time,” she said.
In A division, Stella Ng’oma emerged champion while Karuku and Zambian Theo Birch finished second and third, in that order.
Malawi was hosting the tournament for the first time in over four decades.