LUSAKA: A confident Anthony Michael shot 68 at Lusaka Golf Club yesterday to share the first-round lead at the Indo Zambia Bank Zambia Open.

“You get a confidence boost and you can just ride it. You just have to focus on all of the good that’s been happening and ride the wave,” the Randpark professional said.

The 26-year-old has already had four top-15 finishes on the Sunshine Tour this year, so it was no surprise when he signed for five-under-par to tie Andrew Curlewis and Chris Erasmus. “It’s always nice to start well,” said Michael. “It’s not good to have to fight your way back after shooting a couple over par. Now I’ve set a good mood for the event and I can just play.”

The front stretch of the 6608m parklands course is extremely tough, but Michael kept bogeys off his card and turned at one-under. “I made one birdie and eight pars, which I felt was really good. There are tight tee-shots and you really have to stay focused,” he said.

The back nine has four par-fives so they do offer scoring opportunities, which he took. “Still, people hear that there are four par-fives and they think it’s easy, but those holes are actually pretty challenging. You really have to be sharp around here, but the greens are good – so you can score,” he said.

Michael played alongside Madilitso Muthayi, something of a local golfing hero. A 50-strong group of spectators cheered the players on, with the Zambian golfer finishing on a tidy 71.

Erasmus was pleased to reach five-under in the tough conditions. “I was hitting my driver unbelievably far and straight – I was just flushing everything. I’ve been putting well and hitting the ball well,” he said.

Curlewis, who teed off with the morning field, was the first to reach the clubhouse at five-under – good going in the wind that blew across the course earlier in the day.

Defending champion Doug McGuigan, JG Claassen, Francois Coetzee, JJ Senekal and Charl Coetzee were bracketed on 69 just one off the pace.