The 26-year-old Zimbabwean, who joined the Tour at the McDonalds Winter Qualifying School back in February, slipped into unconsciousness and died at University of Alberta Hospital Saturday afternoon. No cause of death is known pending an autopsy, and no other details were available late Saturday night.
Chitengwa fell ill and withdrew from the third round of the TELUS Edmonton Open two hours prior to his scheduled 10:50 a.m. tee time Saturday.
Reports say Chitengwa, who finished third at the Myrtle Beach Open earlier this year and was tied for seventh at the Shell Payless Open in Victoria two weeks ago, complained of a fever Saturday and was rushed to hospital, where he passed away. More details are expected to be released once an autopsy has been completed.
Many players coming off the 18th green Saturday were visibly shaken when they were informed of their colleagues death.
Lewis was a popular member on Tour, and you would be hard-pressed to find a guy who didnt get along with him, said an emotional Canadian Tour tournament director Ray Horne. He had such a future in this sport. Bogeys and missed putts really dont matter at a time like this.you realize that our sport is just a game. It put things into perspective.'
The three-time Zimbabwe amateur champion also played in two PGA Tour events and was a member of the 2000 Buy.Com Tour, with a best finish of 10th at the Monterrey Open. Among his sponsors was golf legend Nick Price, also a native of Zimbabwe.
In 1993, Chitengwa became the first black golfer to win the South African Amateur Championship.
'When all is said and done, golf really doesn't matter right now,' said Aaron Barber (Orlando, FL), who, at 14-under, leads Jason Bohn of Atlanta, GA by one shot entering the final round in Edmonton. 'Lewis had so much promise, all of us are just numb right now.'
Canadian Tour players and officials will wear black ribbons in Chitengwa's memory for the final round of the TELUS Edmonton Open Sunday, and a post-tournament tribute is planned on the 18th green.
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