HARARE - Local golfer Ryan Cairns shot a superb 66 during the first round of the Zimbabwe Open yesterday which left him just one shot behind overnight leader Jean Hugo of South Africa.
Hugo enjoys the clubhouse lead heading into the second round after carding a seven-under 65 at the Sunshine Tour sanctioned event.
However, with Zimbabwean golfers struggling to make an impact, Cairns opening round yesterday was a major highlight for the local fans.
Cairns, who teed off from number 10, started his round yesterday with a birdie at 12 but would eventually drop his first shot of the tournament when he bogeyed 17.
The Zimbabwean quickly recovered to pick up another birdie at 18 as he finished his first nine on 35.
However, his luck would change when he went around the bend picking up three consecutive birdies from 1 to 3.
The Zimbabwe went on to pick another two birdies 8 and 9 to close his first round on six-under.
Naturally, Cairns was delighted by his splendid start to Zimbabwe’s premier golf tournament at his home course.
“It’s a great feeling,” Cairns told reporters after walking off the 18th green.
“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.”
Cairns, who has one win on the Sunshine Tour, is looking forward to today’s second round but is fully aware that he needs to keep his nerve to stay in contention.
“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,” he said.
Another Zimbabwe, Trainos Muradzikwa also had a memorable first round with a solid three-under 69 yesterday.
Tongo Charamba also finished in the red after an opening round two-under 70 while Clive Nguru was level par.
Marc Cayeux and Mark Williams were on one-over 73.
Cayeux, who is recovering from a horror car accident in 2011, is pleased to be just able to play again after a long recovery process.
“I’d like to keep my game the same as it was, but I’ve got to face the fact that my body’s not the same,” Cayeux, who required at least 27 surgeries after the crash, told the Sunshine tour website.
“I’d like to think I’ll get it back to the way it used to be because then I’m going to be more confident and it’s going to push me further instead of sitting back and settling for this — and I think it’s less than it was before. But it’s a case of finding what I can do and then sticking with it and putting it into tournament play.
“There are a lot of young guys out here, new guys who hit the ball incredible distances. I used to hit it there, and I’m still trying to.”