Zimbabwe’s Marc Cayeux will be chasing an unprecedented hat-trick of successes in the same tournament when the European Challenge Tour switches its attention from Latin America to the African Continent for the 2003 Stanbic Zambia Open at Lusaka Golf Club.
The 25 year old won the title in 1998, shortly before it became a joint sanctioned event between the Challenge Tour and the Sunshine Tour. Then last year he claimed the title for a second time, carding a final round of 70 for a 22 under par total of 270 and a two stoke win over South Africans André Cruse and Richard Sterne.
A field of the highest quality will tee up at Lusaka GC seeking to follow in the footsteps of Cayeux and the 2001 winner Mark Foster, who launched that particular season with a victory in Zambia and went on to head the Challenge Tour Rankings by the season’s end.
Foster, of course, completed a memorable African double earlier this season when he captured the dunhill championship on The European Tour International Schedule after a six-man play-off at Houghton Golf Club in Johannesburg.
Two of the players he beat on that dramatic afternoon in South Africa, Doug McGuigan and Bradford Vaughan, will both be in the field in Lusaka to seek an alternative route onto The European Tour, after coming tantalisingly close to securing the victory which would have achieved that objective at a stroke.
“One week can change your career,” said Vaughan, reflecting ruefully on the missed opportunity to secure a two year exemption on The European Tour. “In the past I’ve put too much pressure on myself but this time I am looking at the bigger picture. I hope to get my card through the Challenge Tour and hopefully it won’t be long before I am playing on The European Tour.”
One of last season’s runners-up, Cruse, is in the field which also contains two of the first three champions of 2003 following the Challenge Tour’s ground-breaking venture to Latin America.
Argentina’s Sebastian Fernandez made up a five stroke deficit over the closing nine holes at Cariari Country Club before defeating compatriot Cesar Monasterio at the first hole of a sudden-death play-off for the Costa Rica Open, presented by Credomatic MasterCard. With a 12 month Challenge Tour exemption under his belt, Fernandez now has his sights trained on The European Tour via the top 15 on the Challenge Tour.
Also competing is England’s James Hepworth from Harrogate, who had second, third and fourth place finishes during his career before entering the winners’ enclosure in the American Express Los Encinos Open in Mexico two weeks later.
Among the proliferation of champions, past and present, in the field, South Africa’s Hennie Otto comes into the Stanbic Zambia Open in a rich vein of form, having won twice on the ‘summer leg’ of the Sunshine Tour season, following up his success in the Nashua Masters with a victory in the Tour Championship.