Zambia Open: great start for Michael

2012-06-15 00:00

LUSAKA — A confident Anthony Michael shot 68 at Lusaka Golf Club yesterday to reach the top of the first-round leaderboard at the Indo Zambia Bank Zambia Open.

“You get a confidence boost and you can just ride it. You just have to focus on all of the good that’s been happening and ride the wave,” he said.

The 26-year-old has already taken four top-15 finishes on the Sunshine Tour this year, so it was no surprise when signed for five-under-par and claimed his share of the lead alongside Andrew Curlewis and Chris Erasmus.

“It’s a great start,” said Michael. “It’s always nice to be up there, especially from the start. It’s not good to have to fight your way back after shooting a couple over par, whereas now I’ve set a good mood for the event and I can just play.”

The front stretch of the 6 608-metre parkland course is a “nightmare nine”, but Michael kept bogeys off his card and turned at one-under. “I made one birdie and eight pars, which I felt was really good. There are tight tee shots and you really have to stay focused,” he said.

The back nine has four par-fives and offers plenty of scoring opportunities, which he seized en route to signing for 68.

“People hear that there are four par-fives and they think it’s easy, but those holes are challenging. You really have to be sharp around here, but the greens are good — so you can score,” he said.

The Randpark Golf Club professional played alongside Madilitso Muthayi, a local golfing hero. The crowds followed, and a 50-strong group of spectators cheered the players on.

Muthayi finished the day at two-under and was outspoken about playing his home open at a course he knows very well.

“It’s always fun coming back home,” he said. “It was a good start for me today, although it was a bit tough because of the weather. Hopefully tomorrow I can keep playing along.

“It means a lot to play in this tournament — being Zambian and having so many fond memories of junior golf here, and with my father being the club captain here. Although this is the first time I’m playing the Zambia Open as a professional at Lusaka Golf Club.”

Erasmus was pleased to reach five-under in such tough conditions. “I was hitting my driver unbelievably far and straight — I was just flushing everything. I’ve been putting well and hitting the ball well – you just have to focus on getting the ball on the fairways and greens,” he said.

Looking forward to the week, the 27-year-old was brimming with confidence, and added: “I’m feeling good about my game after going out on the range yesterday. I think narrowing my focus was a big help today, and I’ve made my way into a good position.”

Curlewis, who teed off with the morning field, was the first to reach the clubhouse at five-under. “It’s always nice to get off to a good start,” he said. “It puts your mind in a different perspective going into the next three days, so I’m happy …”

SCORES: (RSA unless otherwise specified):

68 - Andrew Curlewis, Anthony Michael, Chris Erasmus

69 - JG Claassen, Doug McGuigan, Francois Coetzee, JJ Senekal, Charl Coetzee

70 - Dayne Moore (ZAM), Jacques Blaauw , Merrick Bremner, Des Terblanche, Oliver Bekker

71 - Colin Nel, David Hewan, Derick Petersen , Justin Harding, Alan Michell, Ulrich van den Berg, Madilitso Muthiya (ZAM), Matthew Carvell

72 - Drikus van der Walt, James Kamte, Daniel Greene, Ben Mannix (ENG), Christiaan Basson, Morné Buys, Jake Redman, Andrew Georgiou, Coenie Bester

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