It was not sunburn that had the Sunshine Tour players worried ahead of the Mopani Copper Mines Zambia Open, because the real threat over the next four days will be defending champion Adilson da Silva.
“It’s good fun to be back, because I really like coming to Zambia each year. This course is stunning and I’ve been driving the ball well. If you keep it in play then you’ll have medium irons in and you can get on a good run, so I think that will be the trick this week,” he said.
Brazil’s top golfer won the 2013 Zambia Open at Lusaka Golf Club last year, where he totalled 11-under-par for the week to win by one shot. This year the $250,000 Mopani Copper Mines Zambia Open heads to Nkana Golf Club, which is unchartered territory for the Sunshine Tour.
The course is unforgiving off the tee and finding fairways will be crucial this week. Da Silva is notoriously accurate and has a great short game, which means he’ll be right at home.
“It’s a good feeling to come back and remember the good stuff. The course does suit me, so I’ll need to concentrate hard and give myself chances by keeping it on the fairway. I’m feeling good about my title defence and I’ll try to keep patient and get the job done,” he said.
Da Silva has won 12 times on the Sunshine Tour during a career spanning 20 years. Two of those victories were on Zambia soil, the first of which came on the back of a 17-under-par total at the 2010 Zambia Open. This year he’s looking for a third victory in Zambia.
The Ballito resident visited the town of Kitwe years ago and has been overwhelmed by the changes since his last visit.
“A friend drove me around the town about six years ago and there was nothing. When I got here this year it was unbelievable what they had done with the place. It’s really impressive to see such development and it’s good to be here,” he said.
Also in the field this week are the runners-up from Lusaka last year. Martin du Toit finished second after carding a first-round 66 that co-incided with his wife’s birthday on the 17th of May. This year the third round will play out on the 17th of May and the big man from Johannesburg will be inspired to do well again.
Alex Haindl also finished second in Zambia last year and he heads to Nkana Golf Club on the back of a tied-24th result at the Investec Royal Swazi Open. The 2011 Suncoast Classic winner has made the cut in his last five starts and finished 10th at the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open one month ago. He clearly travels well and is ticking all of the boxes coming into the week.
Local favourite Madalitso Muthiya shot 69 during the pro-am round on Tuesday and is also a man to watch over the next four days.
“I’ve always been a good striker of the ball, so this course suits me. I’ve had some nice results in Zambia and it’s always great to see the crowds, so I’m confident that this will be another good tournament,” he said.