Albert Pistorius kept his cool during a shaky spell on the front nine and raced through the back stretch at Royal Harare Golf Club on his way to a leading six-under-par 66 at the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open.
ÂI was two-under through three holes, but then I slipped two back and finished the nine on level-par. I didnÂt get too angry with myself. I knew I was hitting it well and making good strokes Â and on the back nine that paid off,Â he said.
His six-under-par scorecard led the first round of the R1,5-million rand tournament, but he must stay focused as Lyle Rowe, Irvin Mazibuko and Matthew Carvell lie just one stroke back at five-under-par.
ÂWhen I saw the wind this morning I thought that three-under would be a good score, so this is a real bonus,Â said Pistorius. ÂIÂm feeling good, and my game has been pretty solid. I really worked hard in the off-season, and IÂm really looking forward to this week; IÂve come here with a lot of confidence. We know this game, though, so you have to keep your head down, stick to your routines and hit those shots.Â
Pistorius came to Harare on a run of good form Â he tied for 11th at the Telkom PGA Championship and then for 12th at the Platinum Classic. But even those results could not have indicated how well Pistorius would play on the back nine. He made a massive six birdies for a 30-stroke loop. Yet his demeanour was casual as he described the run, and he said: ÂOn the back nine I started with a nine-iron and hit it very close. On the 11th I sank a good 10-footer for birdie, and then a 15-footer on the par-five 12th, so that made three in a row.
ÂI hit another one very close at the 14th and then at the par-five 16th I hit a three-wood to about 10 foot. I missed the putt for eagle, but still made a birdie, and then made one more birdie with a 30-footer, which was great.Â
Local professional TC Charamba carded a respectable 72 for the day, and described the joys of playing his home open. ÂItÂs nice playing at home,Â he said. ÂThere is no better feeling than playing in a tournament and then going to sleep in your own bed. ThatÂs the best thing for a professional golfer!
ÂIt would be very nice to win here. IÂve won the junior open and amateur open. It would be good to put the big one in the cabinet too.Â
For Pistorius the focus is to stick by your routines, and he was happy to be out in front after the first 18 in Zimbabwe. ÂYou canÂt win the tournament on the first day, but you can throw it away,Â he said. ÂIÂm just glad IÂve put myself into that position where I can go for it, so happy days!Â