20th April 2017 | Sunshine Tour
Du Plessis gets up in Harare after lengthy break
A bogey-free five-under-par 67 was the product of a lengthy break for CJ du Plessis as he moved into an early three-way share of the first round lead of the 2017 Zimbabwe Open at Royal Harare Golf Club on Thursday.
The tournament is the first in the 2017-18 Sunshine Tour season, and, after enduring a tough 2016-17 season, Du Plessis was thrilled to be in a share of the lead with rookie Luke Jerling and Keenan Davidse.
“It was good fun,” he said. “It was good to keep bogeys off the card. I played really well.”
And that was because he did some getting back to basics during the break between the seasons. “I took a long five-week break,” he said. “I’ve been training for the last three weeks with my coach back in Tzaneen. I’ve been working really hard, doing a lot of drills, hitting a lot of balls. It looks like it’s paying off. I was just getting back to basics. I haven’t seen my coach for quite a while because he lives quite far from me, and coaching over the phone is not easy.”
Like many Sunshine Tour professionals, he appreciates what Royal Harare offers the player. “I come here every year – it’s my fifth year – and the greens just get better every year,” he said. “They’re soft, but not too soft, and they just roll so smoothly. There are not a lot of pitch marks and they’re very true.”
That played into the strong point of his game in the opening round. “I struggled off the tee with driver today,” he said. “I only hit two drivers the whole day, so I’ll go back to the range and work on that. The rest of the game was fairly decent. I hit some good wedges and I had 27 putts for the round, so I putted well.”
The course demands some precision golf, and Du Plessis was aware of the threats it posed. “They had some tough flags out there today – some Sunday pin positions which I’ve never seen on Thursday,” he said. “Apparently they redid the bunkers here about nine months ago, so they’re really tough. There’s a lot of sand and it’s tough to get the ball up and down. It’s tough to generate spin around these greens.”
But the 67 has put him in a good position to kick on and make this season a good one for him.