Harare - Jean Hugo fired a five-under-par 67 on Friday to move into a two-stroke lead at the halfway mark of the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open.
He made an eagle, five birdies and two bogeys around Royal Harare Golf Club to be at 11-under-par for the tournament, two shots ahead of rookie Haydn Porteous, with five players three back on eight-under Ä Steven Ferreira, Warren Abery, Le Roux Ferreira, Jbe’ Kruger and Daniel Greene.
The leading Zimbabwean was Tongo Charamba on six-under after his one-under-par 71 in the second round.
“The long game wasn’t that great last year or the year before,” said Hugo, “So I’ve been working on that quite a bit. I’ve always known my short game should hold up. But I’ve been working a bit and it feels better that I can attack the course more if my long game is good.
“In the past season or two, I’ve played too conservatively, so I don’t really give myself chances. It’s just a mindset, but because of the work, my confidence is showing,” he added.
That confidence showed immediately with an eagle three on the third, but he followed it immediately with a bogey but two more birdies before the turn had him three-under through nine.
He made birdie on 12 and bogey on 15, and responded to that bogey with consecutive birdies on 16 and 17 to wrap up his round.
And as much as it was his long game which set things up for him, his putting on greens that the majority of Sunshine Tour professionals agree are the best they play on all year was also an important component of his dominance.
“I’ve had 26 and 25 putts in the two rounds so far,” he said.
“Once you get on line, the ball doesn’t really not go in. So it’s all about reading the greens, which are quite quick Ä but I like these greens.”
Porteous is playing the course for the first time, but his rounds of 69 and then 66 show he’s come to terms quickly with what’s required.
“I think if you keep the bogeys to a minimum on this course, you’ll always have enough birdie chances,” he said.
Kruger, who won the title at Royal Harare in 2010, and Greene proved the wisdom of that kind of approach. They both felt that it was a struggle around the course, carding three-under 69s each.
“It was maturity which kept me in there,” said Kruger.
“I wasn’t quite timing it, but I was able to make birdies to make up for the mistakes I made.”
Greene felt the same, although he made fewer mistakes with just two bogeys on his card.
“I’m pleased with a 69 when it felt so difficult,” he said.
“It was only late in the round that I sorted out a little swing problem, and I was able to make a few birdies.”
It’s Hugo they will be chasing over the weekend, and he won’t be hanging around.
“You need to attack this course,” he said.
“It’s too long and the greens are too narrow and small to be coming in with long irons, so the more attacking you play, the better off you’ll be.”