South African President Jacob Zuma will grace the fourth edition of the 3E Actuaries Equatorial Guinea Open Championship from December 8- 11 in Mongomo, Equatorial Guinea, THISDAY was informed authoritatively last night.
The Open Championship will feature a field of 48 male and 16 female international golfers from many countries. Nine of the players are from Nigeria, including the country’s only recognised female professional, Uloma Mbuko.
It would be Zuma’s second visit to the tiny central African country to share into the vision of Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo to use golf to boost its tourism industry. The South African President graced the second edition held in Mongomo in 2013.
Equatorial Guinea is dotted with some outstanding golf courses notable of which include the Sofitel Sipopo in Malabo, the Presidential Golf Course, Mongomo and the newly installed Djibloho Hotel Golf Course in the administrative capital of Oyala.
The male professional golfers will compete for the prize money of $100,000 over 72 holes while female, making their debut at the tournament will battle for $50,000 on the long but very challenging Mongomo golf course.
Nigeria has been the dominant nation at the tournament, where all three official competitions were scooped by its professional players.
Gift Willy, in 2014, won in between the two titles claimed by Oche Odoh in Malabo in 2013 and Mongomo last year.
Last year there was a deliberate effort to make golf a staple in Equatorial Guinea, particularly among the youths, when local students of the school of tourism were incorporated into the planning and organisation of the event as caddies, range attendants and interpreters.
But this year, according to Willy, who also doubles as the team captain, the professional players have resolved to provide free golf clinics for some of the volunteers at the tournament towards sustaining a virile and lasting golf culture in the country.
Equatorial Guinea does not have a professional golfer as golf is not as popular as football and basketball in the oil producing nation.