Andrew Curlewis sailed through rough winds at Lusaka Golf Club, shooting a Thursday 68 to lead the morning field during round one of the Indo Zambia Bank Zambian Open.
ÂThis morning was cold and windy, so it was a tough start. I grinded through that and then managed to make five birdies on the back nine to finish,Â he said.
ÂCurlyÂ signed in five strokes below the par of 73, finishing one shot clear of JG Claassen and defending champion Doug McGuigan.
ÂItÂs always nice to get off to a good start,Â said Curlewis. ÂIt puts your mind in a different perspective going into the next three days, so IÂm happy. Hopefully I can carry it on.Â
The wind was up throughout the morning and yet he knew where the scoring opportunities lay.
ÂItÂs two different nines,Â he said. ÂThe front is a lot shorter, tighter and has smaller greens. On the back nine youÂve got four par-fives and a couple of birdie opportunities on the par-fours, so thatÂs the nine to make the score on, and luckily I did.Â
The Margate Country Club professional finished tied 20th at Vodacom Origins of Golf Zebula a week ago, marking his fourth top-20 of the season. He was keen to get this weekÂs R1,2-million tournament on the go, and said: ÂIÂm playing nicely, everything is going well, and the course suits me down to a tee, so IÂm looking forward to the next few rounds.Â
Claassen also succeeded in overcoming the blustery conditions and reached the clubhouse at four-under. ÂItÂs a good start Â I only made one mistake today, so IÂm happy with my score in this wind. I think the windÂs going to blow the whole week, but IÂm feeling confident, because IÂve been working hard on my game this year,Â he said.
McGuigan was also on song during the morning round, and drew level with Claassen when he signed for 69. ÂI enjoyed it today, because I usually like the wind,Â said McGuigan. ÂOn the front nine youÂre just trying to get through in level-par. I did well on the back nine, and managed to make an eagle at the last. I took driver off the tee and then a two-iron hybrid from 243 metres. I hit it to about 25 foot and made the putt. To be near the top on the first day defending is a nice feeling.Â
Local hero Dayne Moore posted a respectable three-under-par 70 to finish in an early share of fourth, and was incredibly keen to play well in his home open. ÂI came a week early to play here, and I got quite a few rounds in. IÂm so proud to play in my national open Â IÂm really excited to play in this tournament and IÂve prepared for it. Three-under in this wind is something Â I made a few mistakes, but I fought back well. It will mean the world to do well here Â everyone would love to win their national open, and so, for me, this is the most important tournament of my season,Â he said.