Jean Hugo responded to his second bogey on Thursday in the first round of the R1.8-million Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open by reeling off four consecutive birdies to finish six-under-par 66.
That was on the front nine of Royal Harare Golf Club after he started his round on the 10th, and it was good enough to give him an early one-stroke edge over Jbe’ Kruger, Daniel Greene and England’s Jack Harrison, with Martin du Toit and Ulrich van den Berg a further shot back.
The leading Zimbabwean player after the morning field of the first round was done was Sheldon Steyn on level-par 72 for the 6,554-metre course.
Hugo had a good start with three birdies in his first four holes, but he made a bogey on the 16th – his seventh of the day. “The greens are quite small, so you’ve got to really place your approaches well, and hit your tee ball well,” he explained.
“I did that and I had a few good putts early on to go three-under, then I made a bogey on a par-five to turn in two-under. It was quite windy and raining at that stage. I just needed to grind it out, and at the end I made four birdies in a row after I made another bogey out of the middle of the fairway,” he added.
Kruger, the 2010 champion, also made two bogeys on his way to his 67, as did Greene, but rookie Harrison managed his way around more efficiently and dropped just a single shot to share second with the other two.
Du Toit carded his best round of the year with his 68, while Van den Berg rebounded well after his play-off defeat to Titch Moore in last week’s Telkom Business PGA Championship.
Hugo was pleased with his good start. “I’ve done well here before, which gives me the feeling that I can actually perform here,” he said.