Andrew Georgiou will go into the weekend at the Zambia Sugar Open two strokes ahead of CJ du Plessis after he carded a seven-under-par 66 at Lusaka Golf Club.
Georgiou was three shots back of the lead after round one, however six consecutive birdies through holes nine to 14 saw him card the round of the day.
‘It was a good start with a lot of pars early on. I was hitting the ball nicely. I made a good birdie I think on the fourth hole, got the momentum going, couple good pars after that and then I hit it to about a foot on number nine. It was kind of unexpected to be honest, I was just plodding along. I tapped in there and then had five birdies in-a-row or something like that,’ he said.
Much of the talk in the last two days has been centered around the two nines and Georgiou says he is enjoying the challenge of the golf course.It’s such a great golf course and there are so many par-fives out here that you can definitely have many low numbers. I mean there are a couple eagle opportunities, but yeah I’m thrilled. Six birdies in-a-row and just one silly bogey on 17, but I finished nicely with a birdie on 18 so I’m happy with the way I finished. I’m putting nicely so the putts are going to go and there are enough par-fives around here, that if you just hit them on the green in two, you can two-putt your way around here and shoot four or five-under.
Georgiou has taken inspiration from Bernhard Langer of late, with the legendary German golfer impressing with his long putter.
‘This year has been tricky, having to change putters the first couple weeks. I tried the short putter, and I saw Bernhard have some success overseas and I thought ‘I’ll put the long one back in the bag’ and this was the first time it actually clicked. I’ve been working hard to feel as comfortable as I did last year. I think I had 24 putts today so I’m looking forward to it,’ he said.
Georgiou is adamant on sticking to his game plan and learning from his 2015 Zambia Sugar Open experiences.
‘I was in a similar position last year and this year I’m going to do the old cliché and play my own game. I’m really going to just focus as well as I can on what I’m doing and not worry about anything else,’ he said.
Round one leader James Kamte looked to have control of the tournament, however a double-bogey, bogey-bogey finish saw him sign for a one-over-par 74.
CJ du Plessis carded a flawless six-under-par 67 and he feels at home at Lusaka Golf Club heading into the weekend.
‘I grew up on a similar golf course. You know, tree-lined and the rough is dusty, and panned greens. It feels like home. I’ve always played well here. I grew up playing Kameeldoring Country Club in Potgietersrus, which feels so similar,’ he said.
Reaffirming the front-nine and back-nine differences, Du Plessis said going low at Lusaka Golf Club requires a solid front-nine and a good display on the back-nine’s four par-fives. ‘It just depends on the front-nine, which is the tougher nine with only one par-five. If you can play the front-nine well then you’ve got a really good chance for a low score,’ he added.
Ulrich van den Berg carded nine straight pars on his front-nine and made three birdies on his back-nine to card a two-under-par 71 and share third place alongside England’s Jack Harrison.
Harrison went one better than van den Berg, carding a three-under-par 70.
Harrison said, “It was a tail of two halves really. Front nine was all over the place, in the trees. The back-nine was nice and steady with three birdies and pars on the rest.”
Madalitso Muthiya, the hometown hero, remained at three-under-par for the tournament after carding a level-par round of 73.