His seven birdies and a bogey on the 6,412-metre Nkana Golf Club layout gave him a two stroke edge over five players who carded four-under-par 68: England’s Ross McGowan, and South Africans Chris Swanepoel, Erik van Rooyen, Morne Buys and Colin Nel.
Spangeberg opened last year’s edition of the tournament with a 10-under 62, so he was understandably keen to get back to the Zambian Copper Belt. “After last year, I couldn’t wait to get back here,” he said. “I spoke with Matthew Carvell last year in Zimbabwe, and we both like the African courses.”
Since he won his only Sunshine Tour title in the 2011 Zimbabwe Open, his love for tournaments in South Africa’s neighbouring countries has only increased.
He started his first round with three birdies in the opening four holes, including a chip-in birdie on four, and dropped his only shot on the fifth. After that single blemish, he made back-to-back birdies on seven and eight and again on 11 and 12, making it look easy on a day when most other players dropped more than one shot in their rounds.
“I just putted nicely,” said Spangenberg. “I think I just kept the momentum from last year with my putting. I obviously hit the ball nicely as well.”
Spangenberg plays out of the Kalahari Golf and Hunting Clun in Kathu in the Northern Cape, and that course, like Nkana, is a tight layout requiring precision rather than brute force. “I like the fact that you have to hit the ball straight here,” he said. “It’s not a long-hitter’s course. You have to keep it in play.”
While a lot of the other players were concerned about putting on the difficult greens – they are slower than many greens in South Africa, and grainier – Spangenberg kept his approach simple. “It’s not worth worrying about,” he said. “I just hit everything straight and try to get it to the hole, and today it seemed to go in for me.”
He’s looking for that Midas touch on the greens to continue in the second round. “I’ve just got try and do the same tomorrow,” he said. “I don’t think I can do anything better!”