Doug defends in Lusaka

Doug McGuigan will defend his title at the Indo Zambia Bank Zambia Open this week, but the tournament will play out over Lusaka Golf Club, a venue it hasn’t been to since 2004.

“I’ve just arrived and already there are people talking about the champion, so you do feel it. I’m looking forward to the tournament. It’s good to be back, but you’re not coming back to the same golf course, so there are different feelings,” he said.

He will need to adjust quickly in order to tackle the challenges he will face at the 6608-metre parklands layout, which last hosted the Zambia Open eight years ago.

“We played here a while ago, and I’m stretching my memory to see what’s going on. Nothing looks familiar, and trees can grow in eight years,” he said.

The 41-year-old has plenty of momentum coming into the week after his second-place finish at the Vodacom Origins of Golf Zebula tournament a week ago.

“We drove up here and had some good relaxation,” he said on Tuesday. “I’ll get started this afternoon and practice a bit, then play tomorrow. I’m feeling good at the moment.”

To the victor go the spoils – this year R1,2-million is on offer at the 144-man event, which has a cut to 65 players and those tied on the number after 36 holes.

At last year’s Zambia Open McGuigan had to fend off Jean Hugo in a sudden-death playoff after both players tied for the lead at 16-under-par. It took a few repeat trips down the 18th at Nchanga Golf Club, but McGuigan eventually prevailed.

“To do it again would be a great feat. We don’t predict what’s going to happen in this game, we just go out and try to do our best each round. Hopefully that’s enough this week,” he said.

Last week’s winner Bryce Easton is a danger man in the field. In May he took his maiden victory when he made an eagle during the first hole of a sudden-death playoff at the Sun City Challenge. Last week he cruised to a three-stroke winning margin at Vodacom Origins of Golf Zebula, marking his second victory in three tournaments.

Andrew Georgiou also heads to Lusaka on a superb run – he came tied second at the Sun City Challenge, finished sole third at the Lombard Insurance Classic and then took fifth at Vodacom Origins of Golf Zebula last week.

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