Preparation pays off for Doug at Zebula

Doug McGuigan prepared himself for the quick greens at Zebula Country Club and was rewarded with an opening 66 on Wednesday, which took him to a share of the morning lead.

“I came out here about a month ago and played four or five rounds with some friends of mine. That helped me a lot, to come out here and play the course every day and get used to the greens,” he said.

A steady approach was key to the 31-year-old’s six-under-par total – he kept bogeys off the card and shot 33 on either side of the turn to join Andrew Georgiou atop the leaderboard.

“Very nice start,” said McGuigan. “You’ll take six-under every day, any course. I birdied the first from a bad lie after I hit a nice drive and just got it going from there. Making six birdies and no bogeys was a tidy day.”

McGuigan’s experience paid off on the 6,829-metre course, which has exceptionally quick greens. “I got the pace of the greens very quickly, so if I had a long putt I never hit more than two or three feet past. There was always just a tap-in for par, so there’s very little pressure, which makes for a great day.

“These are probably the best greens in South Africa at the moment – it’s very hard to find something better than this. The whole venue is magnificent, and Vodacom bringing the tournament here is a great idea,” he said.

Georgiou finished third at the Lombard Insurance Classic last week and was pleased to continue his run of good form. After making a smooth eagle at the second he settled into the round and made a run of pars until the turn. On the back stretch he opened up, penciling in four birdies.

“I don’t know what to say – I’m just playing well and I’m going to keep it going,” said Georgiou. “This course is totally different to last week. It just took a bit of time to get used to the conditions, so I thought I would take it easy on the front and then took it from there.

“I love it here. The faster the course, the better for me. I know that if I want to play on the PGA Tour one day I have to be used to fast greens, fast conditions, and this is perfect for me.”

McGuigan knows that the first-round lead doesn’t mean a win, and spoke sagely of the next two days. “I’ve learnt not to get ahead of myself in this game. Everyone is happy with six-under, but you never know what it will offer you tomorrow. I don’t get too excited, and even though I’m feeling very confident, you have to keep that confidence level and not get ahead of yourself,” he said.

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