Takudzwa Chitsiga, Harare Bureau
ZIMBABWE’S top professional golfer Ryan Cairns is among the leaders at the Zimbabwe Open after he finished a stroke behind overnight leader Jean Hugo of South Africa to fuel hopes of a local champion after the opening round at Royal Harare yesterday.
Cairns will play in the morning field and take a 66 into his second day, just one shot behind Hugo.
He started on the back nine and opened his account with two pars and went on to add another pars on holes number 13, 14, 15 having birdied the 12th and 18th while had to drop a shot on the 16th.
The Zimbabwean is seeking to become the first local champion at the country’s premier golf tournament since the turn of the millennium.
He has earned $1 752 013,72 in career prize money but would like to add to his single victory on tour.
“It’s a great feeling, I started well but the second nine was even better I managed three birdies on the opening holes which brought me back in the game.
“I even closed with birdies so I hope to begin from there tomorrow morning.
“Playing in the morning can be tricky but I just hope we will do well.
“We will see how it goes as I know this game you can anticipate but it can also be disappointing so I just hope I will do well until Sunday,” said Cairns.
Former Zimbabwe Open winner Hugo led from the front after the first round.
His last victory in this tournament came at Chapman in 1999. “It was a nice round, I played well and being on top of the leaderboard is encouraging and I wish for another good round of golf tomorrow (today).
“I just took the game as simple as I could and I had some moments of struggling but I managed to keep my composure.
“It is always interesting to play here at Royal and I hope tomorrow I will not be affected by the morning breeze. Today I managed to hit the fairways well, the putting was good as well.
“I also played with some great guys who also had good scores. I will just wait to see want happens heading into Sunday,” said Hugo.
Hugo played alongside other South Africans Travor Fisher Jnr, who carded a five-under, and Jaco Ahlers who finished on three-under.
The opening round had fair scores with locals also making an impression with the in-form Trainos Muradzikwa finishing on three-under par while Tongo Charamba was a shot behind on two under-par.
Clive Nguru was on level par while Marc Cayeux and Mark Williams were both on two over.
Round One Leaderboard
1 Jean Hugo RSA -7 65
2 Ryan Cairns ZIM -6 66
3 Luke Jerling RSA -5 67
3 Keenan Davidse RSA -5 67
3 CJ du Plessis RSA -5 67
3 Trevor Fisher Jnr RSA -5 67
3 Oliver Bekker RSA -5 67
3 Francois Coetzee RSA -5 67
9 Danie van Tonder RSA -4 68
9 Rhys Enoch WAL -4 68
9 Tyrone Ferreira RSA -4 68
9 Anthony Michael RSA -4 68
9 Jason Froneman RSA -4 68
9 Rourke van der Spuy RSA -4 68
9 Cody Martin USA -4 68
9 Vaughn Groenewald RSA -4 68