Lyle bringing sweet memories to Lusaka

2014 Lion of Africa Cape Town Open: Day 1This year’s Zambia Sugar Open takes place more than a month earlier than it did last year, but defending champion Lyle Rowe won’t be making too many changes to last year’s winning  formula.

The tournament gets underway on Thursday at the 6,608-metre par-73 Lusaka Golf Club, and Rowe brings sweet memories with him of his maiden Sunshine Tour victory in June last year when he headed runner-up Neil Schietekat by four shots.

“I’ll just try and stick to the same game plan in terms of what clubs to use off the tee,” said Rowe, “what kind of lines I took last year, whether to be aggressive on certain holes, and which holes to be conservative on, so it’s kind of what suits my eye and what kind of game plan I choose from there.”

He closed with a five-under-par 68 last year, after his brilliant third-round 66, so his most recent tournament rounds on the course were ones for the memory banks. “It’s nice coming back to a place where you’ve done well, and it certainly seems that there are horses for courses,” he said.

While that may be true, the rainy season is just coming to an end, so the course is playing quite differently to last year. “The main difference is probably the run-out on the fairways,” he said. “The course probably plays a little bit wider because the ball is just stopping where it’s landing, so it’s making tee shots a little bit easier.”

His 2015 Sunshine Tour season is book-ended by a share of 16th in the first tournament, the Dimension Data Pro-Am, and a share of 14th in last week’s Mopani/Redpath Zambia Open in Kitwe, so he’s starting to display some good form. “Things seem to be coming right,” he said. “I’m putting well, chipping well, and hitting the ball fairly well, so I just have to put four rounds of golf together. I seem to be playing three rounds well and one round is just tripping me up.”

That happened last week when he carded a four-over 74 in Kitwe in the third round. So a return to the way he closed out this event last year will be most welcome for him.


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