THE 2018 Mopani/Redpath Zambia Open tees off this morning at the Nkana Golf Club in Kitwe with US$150,000 prize money up for grabs.

South African Riekus Nortje returns to defend his title that he won at the same venue last year.

But his form since that win has been modest such that he failed to make the cut at the Zanaco Masters in Lusaka two weeks ago.

Nortje will tee off at 07:20 hours today together with local representative Madalitso Muthiya.

Muthiya said he will not let the spotlight of starting alongside Nortje bother him and will just stick to his strategy.

“There is that pressure that propels you to do well and that which is distraction but when you are a professional, one should be able to handle it,” Muthiya said.

“But I intend to play well; I have been working very hard.”

But he admitted the revamped course will be a challenge for each competition this year.

“Obviously the golf course is not too long but the additions of tee boxes at 3, 6, 8, 9, 16 and 17 holes, adds a new dimension to the tournament,” Muthiya said.

“It is a challenge but it is the same for everyone.”

Meanwhile, JJ Senekal of South Africa who won the Zanaco Masters a fortnight ago and currently leads the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit is also in the hunt for another local title.

Another face to look out for Senekal’s compatriot Bryce Easton who  is fresh from winning the Zimbabwe Open last weekend and is second behind Senekal on the Order of Merit.

Senekal will be hoping to improve on his 5th place finish at last year’s tournament.

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