Kitwe - An exhausted Oliver Bekker shot a flawless opening round 64 to take the lead at the Zambia Open held at Nkana Golf Club to continue a brilliant start to the season in which he has already won twice on the Sunshine Tour.
Bekker showed his class again when he took to Kitwe, two days after he qualified for the 117th US Open, without having had a practice round to get a feel of the course. Four birdies on the front nine were quickly matched by the same number of birdies on the back, and ensured Bekker usurped Ockie Strydom who was leading.
“This was unexpected to say the least. I only got back yesterday from the UK; pretty tired and didn’t sleep well,” he said of his round in Kitwe, “but I played the course two years ago and I remembered some of the holes but some of the lines I had to double-check, but the form is continuing and I am going to ride the wave until it stops.”
He is closely followed by the duo of Strydom and Riekus Nortje who both signed for seven-under-par 65. With a new putter in the bag, Strydom was all fire as he made nine birdies and two bogeys to position himself among the early leaders.
“With this course you have to hit it straight,” he said, “I think I hit two drivers; didn’t hit it well but I have got my trusted two-iron in the bag. I got a new putter in the bag so that helped me quite a bit. I was rolling them in from basically everywhere, so I am happy with today.”
Sharing the second spot, Nortje’s round was quite similar to Strydom’s as he also made a haul of nine birdies and a pair of bogeys. He felt he could have done better though.
“It was a good day out on the course but I feel like I left quite a few out there,” Nortje said, “but also, I made a couple of good putts,” he said.
He, too, cautioned against greed and careless shots, saying such will be easily penalised by this narrow course. “This is not a long course but you have to hit it well around this track,” he said after his round, “but, if you get your irons going, you can go very low.”
Jean Hugo took the fourth spot, signing for six-under-par 66 while Merrick Bremner makes the top five with his five-under 67.
Colin Nel and Ulrich van den Berg share sixth on four-under, while Adilson Da Silva, Combrinck Smit and England’s Chris Lloyd make up the top-10 on three-under after round one.
64 - Oliver Bekker
65 - Ockie Strydom, Riekus Nortje
66 - Jean Hugo
67 - Merrick Bremner
68 - Colin Nel, Ulrich van den Berg
69 - Adilson Da Silva, Combrinck Smit, Chris Lloyd
70 - N.J. Arnoldi, Jake Roos, Jbe' Kruger, Rhys West, Alex Haindl, Madalitso Muthiya, Aubrey Beckley, Titch Moore
71 - Damian Naicker, Martin Rohwer, Lyle Rowe, Teaghan Gauche, Irvin Mazibuko, MJ Viljoen, Ryan Cairns, Gabriel Chibale
72 - Damon Stephenson, Steve Surry, Daniel van Tonder, JJ Senekal, Andrew Curlewis, JC Ritchie, Jared Harvey, Lindani Ndwandwe, Andre Nel, Andrew Odoh, Jacques Kruyswijk, Doug McGuigan, Rourke van der Spuy, Kyle Pilgrim
73 - Vaughn Groenewald, Neil Schietekat, Peter Karmis, Louis de Jager, Tyrone Ryan, Stuart Smith, Jason Smith, Mark Williams, Jean-Paul Strydom, Justin Harding, Ruan de Smidt, Chris Swanepoel, Roy Da Costa, Danie Van Niekerk
74 - Altaaf Bux, Wynand Dingle, Jason Froneman, Keenan Davidse, Richie O'Donovan, Mohammad Rauf Mandhu, Morne Buys, Jason Viljoen, Zack Byrd, Coert Groenewald, Timothy Sondashi, Sydney Wemba
75 - Martin Rominger, Michael Palmer, Jake Redman, Theunis Spangenberg, Makhetha Mazibuko, Matias Calderon, Antonio Costa, Desne Van Den Bergh, Scott Campbell, Sipho Bujela, Jacquin Hess, Greg Bentley, Heinrich Bruiners, Toto Thimba, Matthew Carvell, Stefan Engell Andersen, Ryan Tipping, Tyrone Ferreira, Andrew Georgiou, Breyten Meyer, Dwayne Basson, Chris Cannon
76 - Andrew van der Knaap, Neil O'Briain, Luke Joy, Andre de Decker, Charl Coetzee, Musiwalo Nethunzwi, Michael Scholz, Christiaan Basson, Herman Loubser, Anthony Michael, Wallie Coetsee, Steven Ferreira, Peter Munyinya, Sean Bradley
77 - Luke Jerling, Stephen Ferreira, Jaco Mouton, Abhinav Walia, Kelvin Phiri, PH McIntyre, Gerard du Plooy, Matthew Spacey
78 - Aaron Simfukwe Jnr, Jeff Hopkins
79 - Arthur Horne, Brian Gondo, Patrick Mwendapole, Francois Coetzee
80 - Kelly Tembo, Jaco Prinsloo
81 - Jason Diab, Paul Chidale, Dayne Moore, Boyd Kapalamoto, Matengele Kaira
82 - Denmark Mulambo, Beza Daka, Gibson Mutoya
83 - Cosmas Mufaya
84 - Moses Chewe
85 - Abel Zulu, Jackson Simukonda
86 - Stalion Daka
87 - Mukuka Mwango Jnr, Geoffrey Banda
89 - Humphrey Chisanga, Kelvin Chibuye
RTD - Akil Yousuf