Kitwe - Justin Harding says a club-selection error on the par-three seventh hole was the only thing that stood between him and an unblemished round as he signed for five-under 67 on day one of the Zambia Open to lead on Thursday.
Three quick-fire birdies on the first, the second and fourth holes go him to settle in nicely at Nkana Golf Club, but after the two pars he picked up on fifth and sixth holes, he dropped his only shot of the round to turn in 34.
“I played solidly today,” he said.
“I didn’t really hit anything into trouble and around here that’s hard to do sometimes. But, I put it together and hit a couple of good shots when I needed to. My lone bogey-was a little silly error on my part, club-selection-wise, but I thought I managed my game well and missed it where I was supposed to. And it ended up there.”
He didn’t relent on the back nine, making a birdie on the 10th hole to make up for the bogey he made on the seventh. Three pars followed on 11, 12 and 13 before making another birdie on the 14th. He was not done just yet as he took advantage of the par-five 17th, taking another birdie there.
“The changes they made to the course have made a bit difficult, I think,” he noted, “they have taken a few clubs out of your hand. But, you have to keep it in play here, the rough is long, the greens are small so you don’t really have to go flag-hunting. It’s going to be a challenging week.”
Lurking closely behind Harding is the duo of Colin Nel and Jake Roos who both shot 68s and share the second spot. Nel went four-under on the front nine and after picking up pars on the 10th and 11th holes, he made two birdies one after the other on 12 and 13. The joy of making those was short-lived, however, because he dropped a shot immediately on the 14th, and later on the last hole.
“I’m very happy with my round and if you had given it to me at the start I would have taken it,” Nel said of his effort.
“I played nicely, I hit the ball very good and I kept it in play. I gave myself chances at birdie-putts, which is what you need around this course. I made a few putts, let a one or two slip coming in at the end, but you just have to be patient and if you do make a mistake, just take the penalty and carry on from there.”
Unlike Nel, Roos dropped a single shot on his way to his 68. Canada’s Steve Lecuyer, Phillip Kasozi of Uganda, the South African trio of Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Louis de Jager and JJ Senekal share the fourth spot after they all signed for 69s.
Thabang Simon and Toto Thimba Jr were the highest placed members of the Gary Player Class of 2018/19, having shot 70s to tie for ninth with Rourke van der Spuy, Jonathan Agren of Sweden, JC Ritchie and Christiaan Basson.
67 - Justin Harding
68 - Colin Nel, Jake Roos
69 - Steven Lecuyer, Phillip Kasozi, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Louis de Jager, JJ Senekal
70 - Thabang Simon, Rourke van der Spuy, Jonathan Agren, JC Ritchie, Christiaan Basson, Toto Thimba
71 - Chris Cannon, Thriston Lawrence, Ryan Cairns, Jean Hugo, Alex Haindl, Wynand Dingle, Jake Redman, Steve Surry
72 - Philip Geerts, Musiwalo Nethunzwi, Doug McGuigan, Daniel van Tonder, Jason Viljoen, Luke Jerling, MJ Viljoen, Breyten Meyer, Philip Eriksson
73 - Dayne Moore, Ryan Tipping, Louis Albertse, Ockie Strydom, Peter Karmis, Mark Williams, Neil Schietekat, Jason Froneman, Lindani Ndwandwe, Lyle Rowe, Jbe' Kruger, Callum Mowat, James Hart du Preez
74 - Basil Wright, Fredrik From, N.J. Arnoldi, Stephen Ferreira, Keenan Davidse, Theunis Bezuidenhout, Jacques P de Villiers, Estiaan Conradie, Tyler Hogarty, Bruce McDonald, Teaghan Gauche, Andre De Decker, Tyrone Ferreira, Paul Chidale, Ruan Conradie, Mohammad Rauf Mandhu
75 - Aubrey Beckley, Cody Martin, Jacquin Hess, Jason Smith, Michael Hollick, Coert Groenewald, Ulrich van den Berg, Jaco Prinsloo, Oliver Bekker
76 - Sipho Bujela, Andrew Odoh, Teboho Sefatsa, Benjamin Follett-Smith, Martin Rohwer, Madalitso Muthiya, Jared Harvey, James Kamte, Matthew Carvell, Sean Bradley, Wayne Stroebel, Jade Buitendag, Makhetha Mazibuko, Denmark Mulambo, Keelan Africa, Damon Stephenson, Bryce Easton, Vaughn Groenewald, Merrick Bremner, Scott Campbell, Franklin Manchest, Luke Joy
77 - Desne Van Den Bergh, Titch Moore, Wallie Coetsee, Rhys West, Michael Palmer, Sydney Wemba, Bennie van der Merwe, Hennie du Plessis, Andrew van der Knaap, Gabriel Chibale
78 - Pieter Moolman, James Kingston, Ruan de Smidt, Herman Loubser, Aaron Simfukwe Jnr, Anton Haig, Raphael Phiri
79 - Riekus Nortje, Irvin Mazibuko, Jabulane Mabilane, Marthin Scheepers, Omar Sandys, Combrinck Smit, Beza Daka, Altaaf Bux
80 - Matias Calderon, Andre Nel, TC Charamba, Erhard Lambrechts
81 - Ty Capps, Stuart Smith, Trainos Muradzikwa
82 - Michael Scholz
83 - Henry Mwanza, Grant Veenstra
84 - Bwembwa Chanda, Michael Schutz, Stalion Daka, Zebron Nkhoma, Mwalikwa Sondashi
85 - Francis Musonda, Patrick Mwendapole, Geoffrey Banda
86 - Gibson Mutoya, Nicholas Dolamore
87 - Akil Yousuf, Matengele Kaira, Dominic Musonda
88 - Kayyam Rauf Mandhu
90 - Phumlani Maluka