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Friday, 19 March 2010
The Challenge Tour moves from East to Southern Africa this week and to Lusaka for the Stanbic Zambia Open, a co-sanctioned event with the Sunshine Tour of South Africa.

The Stanbic Zambia Open is one of eight new titles on this year's Challenge Tour although it is far from being a new tournament. Its history can be traced back over 30 years while it was a favourite destination for European professionals who played the old Safari Tour.

Indeed, previous winners of the Zambia title read like a Who's Who of golf as they include Brian Barnes, Tommy Horton, Christy O'Connor Jnr, Sam Torrance and Ian Woosnam, while the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Darren Clarke, Colin Montgomerie, and Vijay Singh graced the event in their formative years on tour.

This week's tournament will take place at its regular venue, Lusaka Golf Club, with a total purse of 78,827 euro (£50,000). Among the field of 156 is at least one previous winner in Marc Cayeux from Zimbabwe, who took the title three years ago, while England's Philip Golding will be returning to familiar surroundings as he finished second and third in the event back in the early Nineties.

Also in Lusaka will be Ashley Roestoff, looking for back-to-back titles after his success last Sunday in the Tusker Kenya Open.

However, this week's tournament could be a milestone as far as the Challenge Tour and the Southern Africa Tour are concerned. "This is the first step in our vision to have four events on the Winter Tour co-sanctioned with the European Challenge Tour," says Louis Martin, Chief Executive of the Southern Africa Tour.

"Ideally, we want to work with the Challenge Tour on having three events in Africa, and a fourth one in South Africa. I believe we can achieve this. If we as the Southern Africa Tour can generate a further two tournaments, then we can look at persuading the Challenge Tour to include the Kenya Open on our schedule as well."

Martin's ultimate aim is to recreate the kind of playing opportunities that featured on the old Safari Tour. "Our job is to create playing opportunities. By linking ourselves with the European Challenge Tour, we give our golfers the chance to get onto their Order of Merit. If they manage to finish the season within the top 15 on the Challenge Tour's Order of Merit, then they qualify for a full European Tour playing card," said Martin.

"This kind of association gives our top young golfers a chance to break onto one of the major tours."

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