Darryn Lloyd raced through his homeward nine in six-under-par 30 on Thursday at Royal Harare Golf Club to grab a share of the first-round lead of the R1.65-million Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open.
He found himself in a three-way tie for the top spot with Darren Fichardt and Italian Aron Zemmer at six-under-par 66, two shots clear of Jared Harvey, Divan van den Heever, Charl Coetzee, Titch Moore and Mark Murless in second at four-under.
He started his first round on the 10th, and turned in level-par 36 after two birdies and two bogeys. “I played quite solidly on the first nine actually,” he said, “but when I did miss a shot, I missed in the wrong place and it was almost definitely a bogey.”
But then things started falling into place with a vengeance, as he reeled off four birdies in a row after the turn, and then added an eagle-three two holes later on the 542-metre sixth to move into his share of top spot.
“I just started to hit the shots in the right places,” he said. “I was also in the right places on the greens. The greens are firm and quick, so it was important that I did that. And then the putter warmed up.”
Fichardt made eight bogeys in his pro-am round the day before the tournament, so he was pleased with his 66. “I haven’t played for three weeks,” he said, “so it was a bit scrappy out there as I finished bogey-bogey-birdie, but my putting definitely hasn’t forsaken me.”
Zemmer made two three-putt bogeys in his collection of three, but compensated for those dropped shots with five birdies and two eagles. “I played well on the first nine, and even with those three-putts, it’s still a good round.”
Lloyd is particularly long off the tee, but was not sure it was much an advantage in his opening round. “The rough is quite thick in places, and it’s not a long, wide golf course,” he said. “It’s got some really tricky holes where you’ve got to place the ball well, so I’m not convinced that length is a huge advantage here.”
But you can be sure he will be good to watch as he heads into the second round chasing a maiden Sunshine Tour title. “I’m going to go out and enjoy myself and see what comes of it,” he said.