Heavy prolonged rain in Lusaka interrupted play for two and a half hours in the Stanbic Zambia Open and prevented the second round from being completed. But it didn't stop England’s Ben Mason and Richard Sterne from South Africa from racing to the top of the leaderboard on ten under par 136.
Mason, an early starter at 6.40am, went round in a best-of-the-day 66 with seven birdies and is clearly determined to put the disappointment of not landing the title in Kenya last week.
The former international eventually had to settle for third place behind the winner, Lee James after virtually leading from start to finish.
“The difference today was my short game,” he said. “The putts were scrappy yesterday. I kept it tight on the par threes and fours, but you’ve got to go for the par fives – they are all birdie and eagle opportunities.
“After leading for three rounds in Kenya, I would really would like to win this week. Obviously, the ultimate goal is to finish in the top 15 at the end of the season and a victory this week would help a lot to reach that.”
Sterne, the South African Amateur champion in 1999 and his country’s strokeplay champion last year, almost matched Mason but came up a birdie short in his 67.
“I’m feeling quite tired,” he said. “I was at the course at ten to warm up for an 11.20 tee-off and eventually got going at two. I managed to start with four successive birdies then missed a three-footer to make it five in a row. On the front nine I only birdied the par five second.
“At the moment I have to apply for invitations to European Tour and Challenge Tour events. A victory this week would guarantee me exemption and I would have every chance to make the top 15 on the final Order of Merit.”
Two more English players, Denny Lucas and Simon Wakefield were able to complete their rounds in Lusaka, Lucas went round in 70 and Wakefield in 68 to share third place on nine under par 137.
South Africa’s Andre Cruse, yesterday’s hero after his hole in one, which landed a Toyota car, came back to earth with 71 for 138 and joint fifth place alongside another South African, Ashley Roestoff, England’s Jamie Little, and Kariem Baraka from Germany.
Roestoff and Little returned 68 and Baraka 70, while among those on 139, seven under, is another Springbok, Hennie Otto. Meanwhile, England’s Lee James, the winner of last week’s Sameer Kenya Open, is on 140 after a 71.
But the long delay in play meant that the round could be completed before dark, leaving 11 groups still on the course. Among them is overnight leader Mark Murless from South Africa, who began the day on eight under.