Cape Town - Jaco Prinsloo felt freed up after his tough week last week, and he made that feeling count on Thursday as he made five birdies and an eagle around the turn to take the first-round lead in the Zanaco Masters at Lusaka Golf Club at eight-under-par 65.
That gave him a one-stroke edge over Kyle McClatchie, with Chris Swanepoel and Rourke van der Spuy each signing for six-under-par 67s on the par-73 layout in the Zambia capital.
“I got off to a really good start,” said Prinsloo. “It got really hot around the turn. On the last five holes, I was fighting for a couple of pars, and I unfortunately didn’t birdie the last hole. But I’m smiling now.”
His good start consisted of birdies on one and two, before he dropped a shot on four. He birdied six and then bogeyed seven before he set off on his brilliant run around the turn. He birdied eight, nine, 10, 11 and 12 before making eagle on 13 to take advantage of afternoon conditions which were much stiller than in the morning.
“The wind dropped quite a bit this afternoon,” he said. “It’s funny here in Lusaka – it always blows in the morning and then tends to calm down – so conditions were perfect, especially on the back nine and that’s where I made it count.”
It was a case of taking advantage of a course which played much easier than Nkana Golf Club did last week, and he has put himself in a position to improve on his top-10 finish there. “I love the course,” he said. “Last week we had it really tough. Nkana was a beast. This one’s not wide by any means, but there are a couple of holes where you can let loose and hit it, and that’s what I like doing. The whole of last week, I think I hit six drivers. Taking a good whack at it here just frees me up and makes me swing better. There’s no fear and you can just play your game.
“The course is playing really well. The greens are really nice and that’s what we want – good greens!”
McClatchie had an awful season last year, and it took a trip back to qualifying school for him to regain his playing rights on the Sunshine Tour. He made nine birdies and two bogeys in his round after missing the cut last week, and he reckons that enjoying the game again has helped him get back the form which saw him look such a hot property when he turned professional.
“One of the big things I’ve worked on for the last couple of months is trying to enjoy myself on the course again,” he said. “You try to do well, and it starts getting tricky in your head – and having fun on the course is a big part of playing good golf.”
Prinsloo certainly had fun. After a relatively quiet 2018-19, he’s come into the new season hot. “I started to get some form last season at Dimension Data, and then I had a good finish last week,” he said. “It’s still early days, but I feel I’m hitting the ball well and I’m looking forward to the rest of the week.”