Fichardt leads in Zimbabwe despite frustrations

It was a frustrated Darren Fichardt who took a one-stroke lead at the halfway mark of the R1.65-million Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open at Royal Harare Golf Club on Friday.

He wasn’t half as frustrated as second-placed Jake Roos, who made successive bogeys on the 17th and 18th after he had edged ahead of Fichardt with a birdie on 16. He finished on eight-under 136 and stalked off to the practice green to try and get things back on track ahead of the second round.

“It was tough on the greens for me,” said Fichardt of his three-under 69 which took him to nine-under for the tournament. “I hit the ball really well – a lot better than yesterday – but the short stick didn’t work as well as I wanted it to.

“I just kept hitting my approaches on the wrong side of the hole. You get days when you get onto the green and you have an inside left or inside right putt, but today I had huge, swinging putts. I didn’t give myself many opportunities to really make birdie.

“But I made the putts I needed to make, which is good, and I made the three-footers, the six-footers for pars, but I’m happy the way I hit the ball today,” he reiterated.

His card had four birdies and just a solitary bogey on it, in contrast to Roos, who had two bogeys before reaching the 15th – at five and nine – but with four birdies and two eagles, things looked good as he made birdie on the 524-metre 16th to take a one-stroke edge over his playing partner Fichardt.

And then came the bogeys. But, as irritated as he was, he still had a one-stroke edge over Louis de Jager, Darryn Lloyd and Ulrich van den Berg who shared second at seven-under, with four more players on six-under.

Lloyd was one of the overnight leaders, starting his day at six-under, but a double-bogey seven on the 16th put the brakes on what was shaping up to be a good round. “I played nicely all day really,” he said, “and then on 16, I missed the green right. I had a really tricky chip from there.

“I left it next to a bunker and I had to play a left-handed shot. I didn’t do so well with that, then I chipped on finally and missed the putt,” he added.

While Fichardt was trying to find the kind of putting he had in his opening round, De Jager changed putters overnight and that did the trick for him. “I putted much better, and it showed in my score,” he said.

Van den Berg made four birdies to turn on 32 after starting on the 10th, a bogey on the third, and then two more birdies on six and eight took him to 67 for the second round and a share of third.

With Fichardt’s form in the first few months of the 2013 Sunshine Tour season – a victory in the Africa Open, second in the Tshwane Open and a share of seventh in the Dimension Data Pro-Am – he will be tough to keep in check if all the elements of his game fall into place over the weekend.

“The putting will sort itself out,” he said – ominously.

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