JACO Ahlers has admitted to some frustration over how his 2024 has gone so far but the 41-year-old put all that aside yesterday as he roared around the Royal Harare Golf Club in seven-under-par to seize the lead after the first round of the FBC Zim Open.

Local hope, Scott Vincent, started well and was tied in third just two shots off the pace.

Ahlers was in sublime form as he started his 2024/25 Sunshine Tour campaign in rampant fashion on the 10th hole and reeled off three straight birdies to get his brilliant round of 65 going. 

He picked up another shot on the par-four 17th and then eagled the par-five third hole. 

Although the world number 354 then bogeyed the fourth, he sealed a one-stroke lead with birdies on the seventh and eighth holes.

“It’s always nice to start that way, especially on the back nine here at Royal Harare, which is tougher, especially the greens, which are all raised,” Ahlers said.

“It’s difficult playing in this mid-year period because I play on the Asian Tour as well and that runs from January to December. 

“This year has not been as good as I would have liked, but you just need to go on from there and today was a step in the right direction.

“Royal Harare suits me, it’s an old style course with big trees and dog-legs. The only way to play it is to be patient and not too aggressive,” Ahlers, who was tied-second in last year’s FBC Zim Open and fourth in 2022, said.

The highlight of Ahlers’ round was when he capitalised on a good drive on the 475m third hole and sent a searing six-iron to within six feet of the hole and sank the putt for eagle.

Michael Hollick is alone in second place on six-under-par after a 66 yesterday.

The Mount Edgecombe golfer reached the turn in one-under, but scorched through the back nine in just 31 strokes, with three successive birdies from the 11th hole, and further gains on the 16th and 18th holes.

There is a strong chasing pack of five golfers on five-under-par, comprising seasoned winners Jacques Blaauw and Darren Fichardt, Zimbabwe’s own  Vincent, the experienced Anthony Michael and former University of North Texas college golfer Jason Roets. – Sunshine Tour

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