LOCAL golfer Simon Katembenuka carded a solid round of three-under-par 69 to move into a tie for eighth position and within four shots of the lead held by South Africa’s Louis Albertse after the opening round of the FBC Zimbabwe Open at Royal Harare Golf Club on Thursday.
Katembenuka, a 34-year-old seasoned teaching professional, who runs the popular Price Golf Range in Emerald Hill on the outskirts of Harare was in fine form as he turned back the years with a fine round at Royal Harare.
He showed mental fortitude to remain in early contention as he did not get to the best of starts after a bogey on the par-four opening hole, before recovering with a birdie on the long par-five third hole.
Another bogey on the par-three fifth threatened to derail his charge, but Katembenuka was able to tap into his experience by managing three more birdies on the eighth, 11th and 16 while not dropping any shots for the rest of the round.
The soft-spoken golfer, who played his round alongside seasoned South Africans JJ Senekal and Jake Redman, who are both winners on the Sunshine Tour said it was a good learning experience for him.
“I’m happy I managed to hold it together in the end. I played with two top guys on the Sunshine Tour so I learned one or two things from them during the round. Tomorrow I will be playing my second round at Chapman which is a different story and we will see how it goes,” Katembenuka said.
Katembenuka will start the second round at Chapman Golf Club, four strokes behind the lead held by Albertse.
The 32-year-old South African continued his brilliant start to the new Sunshine Tour season after carding a seven-under-par 65 at Royal Harare.
Albertse secured a ninth-place finish in the season-opening Lombard Insurance Classic at Arabella Country Club which was won by Herman Loubser.
Loubser is seeking to make it two wins in as many weeks and the Modderfontein golfer got his bid off to a perfect start with a six-under-par 66 at Chapman Golf Club to finish the opening round just one stroke off the lead.
Top Zambian professional Madalitso Muthiya is in a tie for third with South African Keegan Thomas on five-under-par 65.
Home favourite Ryan Cairns opened his campaign with a one-under-par 71 and is tied for position 22 with top junior golfer Keegan Shutt, who showed maturity beyond his years with a solid opening round.
The second-round action will be underway at both Royal Harare Golf Club and Chapman Golf Club this morning.