Kitwe - Theunis Spangenberg has 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.
Scores after round one of the Zambia Open at the Nkana Golf Club on Thursday.
Scores (RSA unless otherwise specified):62 - Theunis Spangenberg
65 - Jacques Kruyswijk, Wallie Coetsee
67 - Lyle Rowe, Jared Harvey
68 - T I Mazibuko, Erik van Rooyen, Justin Harding
69 - Juan Langeveld, Jaco Prinsloo, Danie van Tonder, Dayne Moore (ZAM), Pieter Moolman, Merrick Bremner, Titch Moore, Arthur Horne (SWZ)
70 - Louis de Jager, Heinrich Bruiners, Keenan Davidse, CJ du Plessis, Matthew Carvell, Drikus Bruyns, Sheldon Steyn (ZIM), Wynand Dingle, Callum Mowat, Adilson Da Silva (BRA), Oliver Bekker
71 - Tertius van den Berg, Allan Versfeld, PH McIntyre, Shaun Norris, Peter Karmis, Andrew Georgiou, Grant Veenstra, Andrew Light, Patrick Mwendapole (ZAM), Francesco Laporta (ITA), Ryan Tipping, Steven Ferreira, Dean Burmester, Jean Hugo, Charl Coetzee
72 - Rhys West, JC Ritchie, Haydn Porteous, Francois Coetzee, Desne van den Bergh, Attie Schwartzel, Bryce Easton, Andrew Curlewis, Jaco Ahlers, Tyrone Ferreira, Gert Myburgh, Stuart Smith (BOT), Thabang Simon 73 - Torben Baumann (GER), Njuguna Ngugi (KEN), TC Charamba (ZIM), Le Roux Ferreira, Ruan de Smidt, Daniel Greene, Gideon Pienaar, Justin Turner, Shaun Smith, Eddie Taylor, Divan van den Heever, Jeff Inglis (ENG), Christiaan Basson, Warren Abery, Doug McGuigan
74 - Denmark Mulambo (ZAM) (AMA), Ignatius Mketekete (ZIM), Roberto Lupini, Toto Thimba (Jnr), Jake Redman, Jacques Blaauw, Hendrik Buhrmann, Ryan Strauss, Jean-Paul Strydom, JJ Senekal, Desvonde Botes, Riekus Nortje
75 - Mohammad Rauf Mandhu (ZIM), Derick Petersen, Martin du Toit, Aaron Simfukwe Jnr (ZAM) (AMA), Michael Hollick, Mohammed Zulu (ZAM)
76 - Coenie Stoop, Timothy Sondashi (ZAM) (AMA), Ryan Cairns (ZIM), Madalitso Muthiya (ZAM), Beza Daka (ZAM), John Bele, Maritz Wessels, Colin Nel, Andre Cruse, Louis Calitz, Kelvin Phiri (ZAM), Greg Bentley (ZIM)
77 - Steve Surry (ENG), Stefan Engell Andersen (KEN), Anthony Michael, Paul de Beer
78 - Vaughn Groenewald, Neil Schietekat, Peter Munyinya (ZAM) (AMA), JG Claassen
79 - Gabriel Chibale (ZAM) (AMA), Lindani Ndwandwe, Mukuka Mwango Jnr (ZAM) (AMA), Ruan Huysamen (NAM), Matengele Kaira (ZAM) (AMA)
80 - Teboho Sefatsa, Tyrone Mordt, Mwila Mwango Snr (ZAM) (AMA)
81 - Kangwine Chiluba (ZAM), Alan Michell, Alex Haindl, Drikus van der Walt
82 - Fred Ndhlovu (ZAM) (AMA), Mwivwanji Simukoko (ZAM) (AMA), Obed Sholomo (ZAM)
83 - Ebenezeer Funga (ZAM) (AMA)
84 - Kelvin Chibuye (ZAM) (AMA), Phillip Tshuma (ZIM), Geoffrey Banda (ZAM), Charles Shalubobya (ZAM) (AMA), Stephen Mbewe (ZAM)
85 - Aaron Simfukwe (ZAM)
92 - Shingi Shumba (ZIM) (AMA)