Vincent announces his arrival
Harare- FOR 18 rounds on Thursday at the Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, Zimbabwe’s latest golf prodigy had the honour of overshadowing 2015 Masters champion, Jordan Spieth, even though he was playing in his first tournament on the US PGA Tour.
And, those who watched Spieth destroy the field of the world’s best golfers at Augusta National, on his way to winning his first Major golf title, will tell you that is a very special thing, and Scott Vincent will cherish that for a very long time.
If ever there were doubts that Vincent is the next big thing in golf, not only in Zimbabwe but on the entire African continent, then his superb performance in his first battle against the seasoned professionals at the RBC Heritage Classic, will provide all the answers.
And, on day one last Thursday, he even did well enough to push Spieth, the world number two ranked golfer, into the shade.
Vincent fired a one-under par 70 in the first round and ended four strokes better than Spieth who started his campaign at Hilton Head Island with a three-over par 74 before the American showed his class, in the second round, to shoot a 62.
That Vincent even made the cut, after following up his 70 with another identical 70 on Friday, was in itself a huge success for the young Zimbabwean golfer.
In the end he finished tied 64th after a level par 71 on Saturday and a two over-par 73 on Sunday but the mere fact that he played only one round, over par, in his first dance with the best players in the world, was a phenomenal achievement.
On a great week for Vincent, he even enjoyed the company of United States golfer, Kevin Streelman, who won the Masters Par 3 contest at Augusta before finishing tied 12th in the first Major of the year, for a nine-hole practice round at Hilton Head Island.
And it was not just about practice but Vincent got some vital lessons, from the established professional, of how to survive in the tough world of the PGA Tour.
“That’s what everyone’s been telling me,” Vincent said. “Don’t set expectations too high and just soak every bit of what there is to soak in on the PGA Tour.”
Vincent shot to international prominence when he overhauled a six-shot lead last year to win the Players Amateur, rallying from behind to shoot a final-round 68, with his 11-under-par 277 enough to win him the tournament by a shot.
By his admission, since those heady days when he bathed in the international spotlight, he has struggled to keep his game at the level that he wants.
“I felt like if I wasn’t winning, I wasn’t playing well,” Vincent said.
“And just putting a lot of pressure on myself instead of just going out and playing how I played at the Players. I was out there just swinging away, playing it hole by hole and not getting too far ahead of myself.”
Vincent started his first round with a bogey four on the first hole, birdied the second, a par five, bogeyed the third, a par four, and then birdied the fourth, a par three.
He shot a level par on holes five, six, seven, eight and nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen and sixteen, before a birdie on the 17th and a par on the 18th, brought a close to a memorable first day hunting with the big boys.
“Congratulations to Scott Vincent on an absolutely superb opening round in his first PGA tournament the RBC Heritage,” former Zimbabwe Sports Minister, David Coltart, wrote on his Facebook page.
“Scott had a first round 70, 1 under par lying level with his compatriot Brendon de Jonge in 22nd place in the 124 man field.
“To put this in context Jordan Spieth, last week’s Masters Champion is lying in 93rd place, with a 3 over par 74. Wonderful to have two excellent golfers flying the Zimbabwean flag so high.
Scott is such an exciting prospect for Zimbabwe. A young man with a very intelligent approach to the game.
“I have no doubt that he is going to be one of our best golfers ever, and another great ambassador for Zimbabwe.”
Vincent got his second round underway with a par on the first hole before he eagled the second, a par five, and then followed it up with another par on the third while a bogey, birdie, bogey closed his first nine.
Zimbabwe is a country that has produced a number of fine golfers, none better than Nick Price, who won three Major titles in the ‘90s and was once ranked the number one golfer in the world before being inducted in the Golf Hall of Fame.
Vincent might just be the latest in that long line of superb Zimbabwean golfers who have taken on the world and his caddie at Hilton Head Island was another young golfer, whom many believe will explode in the few years to come, Brett Krog.
The good thing about Vincent is that he is not getting carried away, by how he played in South Carolina, which shows that he has the right character needed to succeed in this game.
“I’m just here to learn,” he said.
“Hopefully, I’ll be back in a few years’ time.”