The morning conditions at Royal Harare Golf Club couldn’t have been more favourable in round one of the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open as Mark Murless and Louis de Jager took full advantage carding seven-under-par 65s to take the clubhouse lead.
With an outward nine of two-under-par, Murless then ripped through his homeward nine carding five further birdies and no bogeys, to share the lead alongside De Jager. It was a special round from Murless, who only needed 22 putts on the day.
He said, “I got out to a slow start, but on the back-nine, we set it alight a little. I putted really well, you know 22 putts is probably my record so I’m really happy with that.”
As for De Jager, a good start to his outward nine was followed up by a solid display on his homeward nine. He said, “I started well making four birdies going out and I just kept going on the next nine.”
Both players currently lie two shots better off than Vaughn Groenewald, Merrick Bremner and Ruan de Smidt who opened their accounts with five-under-par 67s, to share third place.
As was the case with the two leaders, Groenewald found the always-pure greens at Royal Harare Golf Club a pleasure. He said, “The putter was working nicely. I was seeing the lines and knocking them in. I could have made two more bogeys out there but I saved them with two good putts.”
The story of the day however, belonged to Marc Cayeux of Zimbabwe. Cayeux wept on Thursday after he completed his first competitive round on the Sunshine Tour after more than five years away from the game brought on by a head-on collision with a police truck in 2010. He carded a two-under-par 70 in his opening round.
“It’s been five-and-a-half years of trying to get back to this sort of level,” said Cayeux afterwards. “It was quite a nerve-wracking first tee shot and luckily I found the middle of the clubface. I hit it on the green and I three-putted. So I said to myself the bogey would get rid of the nerves, and there are 17 holes to try and make birdies.”
Defending champion Dean Burmester will need three good rounds if he to catch up with the good scoring after carding a respectable two-under-par 70, leaving him five off the pace.
65 – Louis de Jager (RSA), Mark Murless (RSA)
67 – Merrick Bremner (RSA), Vaughn Groenewald (RSA), Ruan de Smidt (RSA)
68 – Jacques Kruyswijk (RSA), Danie van Tonder (RSA), Jacques Blaauw (RSA)
69 – Jack Harrison (ENG), Stephen Ferreira (POR), Allan Versfeld (RSA), Steven Ferreira (RSA), Christiaan Basson (RSA),Doug McGuigan (SCO), Jason Froneman