Spangenberg goes wild on Nkana greens; leads Zambia Open

Theunis Spangenberg made 22 putts to card a superlative 62 at Nkana Golf Club on Thursday, where he set up a three-shot lead in the first round of the Mopani Copper Mines Zambia Open.

 

“I had 22 putts today and that made all the difference, but I also hit the ball fairly straight and stayed calm. It’s nice to be playing well and now I need to keep it going,” he said.

 

The 31-year-old started on the back nine and realised he was going low when he chipped in for eagle from off the green at the 17th. The scoring didn’t stop and he went on to reach the clubhouse on 10-under-par, three shots clear of Wallie Coetsee and Jacques Kruyswijk.

 

“On the par-five 17th I hit a really good shot in there and then chipped it in for eagle,” said Spangenberg. “That took me to five-under and I knew there were more chances out there, so I kept attacking the holes. Once I got into double figures I wanted to stay there, so it was quite important that I made birdie at the last hole.”

 

The Kathu resident picked up a sponsorship from Tau Mining this year and that’s helped him to focus on his golf. The support is clearly producing results – Spangenberg made seven birdies and two eagles during the first round in Kitwe.

 

“I’ve got an opportunity from a Mining company in Kathu that sponsors me, which helps to take the pressure off. It’s been easier to stay focused since they have come along,” he said.

 

Travel has always suited Spangenberg, who won the 2011 Zimbabwe Open. In Zambia he’s racked up plenty of top results including a tie for 10th in 2007, a tie for 12th in 2008, and a tie for 24th in Lusaka last year.

 

“It’s exciting to come to a new course, because no one has played the course before and we don’t know what to expect. It’s an equal battle ground and as you play your confidence grows. You start to see the course a bit wider than you did before,” he said.

 

Thursday’s 62 was the best professional round that he’s carded in nine years on tour, and it came at a course that has been labelled as tough and tight.

 

“I’ll take 10-under any day, especially on a course like this, which everyone thinks is tight. I played well in the pro-am a couple of days ago and it seems to have continued,” he smiled.

 

There was more excitement on Thursday when Allan Versfeld won a new Jeep Cherokee with a hole-in-one at the third hole. The 2011 Sunshine Tour Rookie of the Year took an eight-iron from 151 metres.

 

“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 a dream come true.”

 

Kruyswijk started in the morning and included a 30-stroke front nine in his 65, which set the early pace on seven-under-par. Coetsee raced to the clubhouse with a birdie, eagle, birdie finish that secured his share of second place.

 

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