Jacques Kruyswijk flew straight into the lead during round one of the Mopani Copper Mines Zambia Open on Thursday, where he shot 65 to move two strokes ahead of the morning field.
“It feels really nice to be in the lead and to play some good golf again. The hard work is paying off and all-in-all I’m very happy with today’s round and my position at this early stage of the tournament,” he said.
The 21-year-old from Pretoria sped through the front nine of Nkana Golf Club in 30 strokes to stand head and shoulders above the competition. By the end of the morning session he had scored two more birdies to take up first place on seven-under-par, two shots clear of Lyle Rowe (@lylerowe13).
“You get a lot of confidence when you go out like that,” Kruyswijk said. “I didn’t want to defend over the next nine, so I just stuck to my guns and it paid off. I’ve shot 30 on the front nine in an amateur tournament before, but this is my first time on the Sunshine Tour.”
The secret to success at Nkana is to keep the ball in the fairway, because there is thick rough and plenty of trouble beyond the short grass. Kruyswijk made no bogeys during the first round, which was crucial in keeping his momentum up.
“My game plan was to keep the ball in play and find fairways. It’s tough out here and I only hit driver two times today. I was taking a lot of three-wood and irons off the tee box, which helped a lot,” he said.
The first round was full of excitement after Allan Versfeld played a magical eight-iron into the third green and made the second hole-in-one of his career. The 151-metre shot won Versfeld a Jeep Cherokee valued at 648,000 Zambian Kwatcha and he smiled all the way to the parking lot.
“I’m sure the feeling won’t set in for a long time,” he said. “To win a Jeep is really unbelievable and making that hole-in-one is really a dream come true.”
Rowe made a serious move up the leaderboard when he birdied five consecutive holes on the front stretch. The Port Elizabeth player started off the 10th tee and turned one-under-par for the day, but over the next nine holes he barely missed a putt and carded 32 to take up second place.
“I made five birdies in a row from the second to the sixth hole today. I’ve got a new putter in the bag and from the second hole I started to sink some nice ones… it was really good to get on a roll like that,” he said.
TI Mazibuko also started on the 10th and made a lone bogey at the 13th to turn two-under for the round. Over the front nine he came alive after he made birdie two at the third hole. He made a further three gains to reach six-under for the day, but an untimely double-bogey at his 18th hole meant a slip to sole third on four-under. It remained a solid round of 68 for the Sowetan.