Renowned golfers Charles Merrick and Teri Amaro were on cloud nine after emerging champions in their respective sections of the annual NICO General Insurance golf tournament at Nchalo Sports Club on Saturday.

However, Merrick must thank his gods for smiling at him at a time he was set to finish as the runner-up. Initially NICO Holdings managing director, Felix Mlusu won the men’s open section with 37 points after counting out Merrick.

By virtue of being the sponsor, Mlusu surrendered the honour to Merrick who moved from position two to one during the tournament that attracted a field of 76 golfers. Merrick said it was a tight competition as the scores suggest.

“I played good golf and we tied on points. I played solid golf. My driving was good. I also thank Nico for supporting this tournament. Of course I had a shaky start but the organisers helped me settle my nerves. I would like to defend the championship,” he said. Yottam Saka finished second with 36 points while Welkam Phiri was third with 35 points. Saka also won nearest to the pin drive on hole 15.

Lassy Pinto won the longest drive on hole 13. In ladies category, Amaro scored 35 points to finish first while Lilian Gawaza was second. In individual awards, she also won the nearest to the pin on hole 18.

Senior golfer JJ Chikapa won the seniors category with 32 points while former Blantyre Sports Club golf captain, Hudson Kantwanje, with 31 points was named the best broker. NICO General Insurance Chief Executive Officer, Eric Chapola, said it was one of the biggest tournaments as they seek to interact with their clients.

“They are one of the biggest clients and we had to interact with them to maintain business,” he said.