Rookie Sipho Bujela shot the lights out at Lusaka Golf Club on Friday, carding an eight-under-par 65 to share the Zambia Sugar Open lead going into the weekend.
“It’s a great feeling to lead. You can’t get better than this, because being at the front is everyone’s dream as a rookie. I’ve been playing beautifully but not scoring well recently, so today’s round really felt good,” he said.
The 23-year-old peppered his card with eight birdies for his first taste of leading as a professional. He joined morning leader Martin du Toit on a 10-under-par total ahead of the cut, which reduced the field to 74 players on one-over-par or better.
“It’s the first time that I’ve been up there, and it’s a learning curve for me,” explained Bujela. “I’ll take every bit of experience that I get and see where it goes. I want to compete, but I’ll to try to play with the same mindset that I had today, because I was very relaxed.”
The Modderfontein Golf Club professional earned his card through the Vusi Ngubeni Qualifying School, where he shot a first-round 64 en route to a fourth place finish.
He made his first cut at the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open a month ago and that marked a turning point in his game. He’s learnt that it takes plenty of practice to hone one’s game.
“I’ve been struggling off the tee, but I put in hard work on that area of my game and today everything clicked. I was driving it well, my irons were accurate and I putted very nicely. I’ll take 65 any day,” he said.
Du Toit lead at the start of the day, and claimed his share of the top spot with a Friday 70. He was happy with the consistency in his game, especially at Lusaka, where keeping it in play is crucial.
“To be 10-under-par after two days is perfect to me, and I’m going to try to keep it going. Just sticking to the basics will keep me up there,” he stated.
Zambian Madalitso Muthiya shot five-under-par 67 to head up the local charge in a share of 11th. He played at Lusaka Golf Club as a boy and reminisced over how he used to dream of winning the Zambia Open back in those days. He could make it a reality this week.
“When I was just six years old and starting out with golf I watched this tournament, and I believed I could put my name on the trophy when I was growing up. If that happens this week it would be something of a dream come true,” he said.