Don't tell Andre Cruse that lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place. A year ago, almost to the day, in the Stanbic Zambia Open he holed-in-one at the 11th to win a car. In the opening round of the same event today, the South African did it again, sinking his six iron tee shot at the 168 yard 16th hole.
Last year he refused the car on offer and took the cash equivalent. This time he will drive away with a Toyota YRV worth around £10,000.
The eagle, plus another at the long 14th, saw him home in a six-under-par 67 and joint third place, two strokes behind the leader, fellow South African Mark Murless, with a third Springbok, Rudi Whitfield second on 66.
"I went up to the car and touched it for luck before teeing off," said Cruse. "I said to a lady scorer, 'lightning couldn't strike twice in the same place', and she replied: 'you never know'.
Cruse shares third spot with the leading English players, Craig Cowper and Denny Lucas, plus another Springbok, Hennie Otto.
Murless, who won the pre-tournament pro-am, had nine birdies in his 65, including a chip-in from 15 feet on the par four 15th. His only bogey came at the par four third where he hooked his drive into trees. His recovery hit a tree but rebounded on to the fairway but after a wedge to the green he missed from four feet for par.
“I’ve been enjoying a return to form lately, with good finishes in the Nashua Masters and The Tour Championship,” he said.
“My fiancee, Joanne, sat me down for a good talk just before the Nashua Masters. She reminded me of the reasons why I started playing this game. Basically, I had forgotten to have fun out there. Instead, I was worrying about my game. I didn’t enjoy playing any more and hated the travelling.
“We are getting married on 30 March, so I had better start making some money to support her,” he joked.
Whitfield had eight birdies in his 66 and said: “I’m hitting the ball really well and I managed to hole a few putts which makes all the difference because the other guys seem to be struggling on these greens. I had a really frustrating summer on the Sunshine Tour because I had to pre-q1ualify for every event.”
Cowper, 31 year old Londoner, had seven birdies and a bogey in his 67, but Worksop-based Lucas, 25, didn't drop a shot as he reeled in six birdies.
Cowper said: “I haven’t played much recently due to a fractured foot. I did it playing football and it laid me up for seven weeks.”
Otto, a Challenge Tour graduate in 1999, compiled seven birdies and one bogey in his 67.
England’s Lee James, winner of last week's Sameer Kenya Open, maintained his good form with 69.