THE UNIS Spangenberg of South Africa yesterday shot into pole position of the Mopani/Redpath Zambia Open Golf Championship with a two stroke advantage of five others after the first round.
Zambia’s Dayne Moore fired a one-under 71 to perch himself as the best placed local star with Madalitso Muthiya two strokes behind while other Zambians struggled.
Spangenberg, who fired a superlative course record 10-under last year but finished in eighth place, was in blistering form again with a six-under 66 to take an overnight lead going into today’s second round.
“It feels a bit the same as last year,” Spangenberg said after completing his 18 holes.
“I just putted nicely, I think I just kept the momentum from last year with my putting. I obviously hit the ball nicely as well.”
The South African, who has only won once on the Sunshine Tour, had seven birdies in total and only a bogey during his play and promised to keep his cool in the coming rounds.
In second place is Ross McGowan of England with four South Africans on a four-way second position tie after completing play in round one.
McGowan, who made an early tee off, carded a four-under 68 to end the day with a perfect birthday present on the day he was turning 33 before four South Africans.
Also firing 68 was Chris Swanepoel, Erik van Rooyen, Morne Buys and Colin Nel who all were in the morning field.
The 2006 English amateur champion sank six birdies, three each on the back and front. McGowan was four up before the 14th hole where he hit a bogey and again on number 15 before restoring his four-under with consecutive birdies on 17 and 18.
Buys fired seven birdies but had a double bogey on number 14 and a bogey on the 18th.
“I like playing in Zambia although I did not play in this tournament last year, so when I played in the Pro-Am here yesterday [Wednesday], it was a bit of a shock to the system,” said Buys, who finished in the top 20 during the Konkola Copper Mines Zambia Open Championship in Chingola four years ago.
And Moore fired a one-under 71 to stay in 29th overall position while Muthiya is in position 46 on one-over.
“I made a lot of bogeys. I made an eagle on the 17th, otherwise I think I struggled. I was pretty relaxed and I said to myself I just have to breathe and I played it like a practice round not to be so tense,” the 22-year-old said.
Muthiya sank his 13th career eagle on number 17 but this did little to better his score and closed the day one-over 73.
The Zambian struggled with his game, posting four bogeys, two each on either side of the course and just managed one birdie.
Muthiya, who teed off from the back of the course, fired one over on number 10 and again suffered a drawback again collecting a bogey on the 15 but compensated with an eagle on the 17th hole.
He again started shaky on the front, hitting a bogey on number one and four but closed his day with a birdie on the ninth and end one-over 73.
“All in all I will take one-over for the first day,” Muthiya said.
But it was a disastrous outing for the other Zambians with Kelly Tembo having the worst result on 22-over 84 and it was more the same story for his other compatriots.
Aaron Simfukwe Jr was on four-over 76.