Neil Cheetham could only describe his game as solid after four consecutive birdies midway through his round helped him secure an early lead in round one of the Africom Zimbabwe Open.
Starting on the 10th tee at Royal Harare Golf Club, Cheetham, an Englishman who plays regularly on the Sunshine Tour, opened his scoring account on the 12th hole with an easy birdie on the par-five.
Two more regulation pars followed before a well-hit tee shot on the par-three 15th landed stiff and got him started on his run of four consecutive birdies.
He reached the turn at five-under par before two bogeys and three more birdies saw him sign off with a six-under par 66 and a one shot lead over Martin Maritz with Jean Hugo, Vaughn Groenewald, and defending champion Jbè Kruger a further shot adrift. Kruger looked in great form once more after closing with four birdies in his last five holes.
After persistent overnight rain and a few more drops this morning, the Royal Harare layout played slightly longer than its 7 210 yards with soaked fairways and heavy air.
And although he said it was too long for himself, Zimbabwe veteran Tony Johnstone still managed to finish as the top Zimbabwean after closing with a streak of birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie for a solid three-under par 69.
It was also nice to see another Zimbabwean stalwart Marc Cayeux at the club after his horrific car accident last September which has put him out of golf for a considerable amount of time. However, he was on crutches instead of being in a wheelchair which shows positive signs of a full recovery.