Scott Drummond completed a fine day for the Scots when he stormed into a two-stroke lead after the opening round of the Stanbic Zambia Open in Lusaka. Just hours after Alastair Forsyth took the early honours in Dubai, Drummond fired an eight under par 65 as the black clouds gathered over the Lusaka Golf Club.
Drummond, the Devon-based Scot, began his round at the 10th and started eagle-birdie before adding a further four birdies, another eagle and one bogey on a day when the majority of the field struggled with the swirling wind and intermittent rain brought on by an approaching storm.
"The eagle, birdie start really settled me down," said Drummond, who is chased by South Africa's Derek Scullard with a 67 and Keith Horne and Michael Kirk with rounds of 68.
"The last six holes were really tricky because the wind was swirling quite a bit. But everything just clicked for me and the putts dropped. I'm surprised the scoring wasn't better. But the rough is difficult because the ball is picking up quite a bit of mud, so the course at the moment certainly favours
those players who can keep it on the fairways."
Drummond's performance gives him some hope for the coming year after a disappointing 2002 in which he plunged 90 places to 108th on the Challenge Tour ranking.
"I had a really bad run last year. I didn't feel as though I played badly, but I didn't score as low as I could have. So it's important for me to get a good start to the season."
He achieved just that at the par-73 Lusaka Golf Club. Drummond's eagle at the short par-five 10th came after his eight-iron approach hit the flag, leaving him a six-inch putt. A birdie from nine feet at the next set the tone for his round, with the 28 year old carding back-to-back birdies at the 13th and 14th and another from six feet at the 16th. A chip to six inches at the 18th for a tap-in birdie took him out in seven-under 31.
Drummond holed a 10-footer for eagle at the second and then dropped his only shot of the round at the par-four eighth when he hit his first bad drive of the day.
"I blocked my drive right and into the trees. My second hit a tree and I still had no shot out," Drummond said. He punched out onto the fairway, but still hit a lob wedge to six inches from the hole for a simple bogey tap-in.
Drummond's short game was certainly his strong point. He hit the flag with his birdie chip at 17, shaved the hole with his birdie chip at the first, chipped up to six inches for a par at the fifth, and hit the flag with his birdie chip at the seventh.
Scullard, 24, a morning starter, set the target with 67, beginning his round with a chop-in birdie at the first and then lighting up the back nine with five birdies.
“I think 67 was quite a competitive score today,” said Scullard. “I started well with that chip-in but I think the key to my round was that I took advantage of the five par fives on this course. I birdied four of them, which always helps.”
Scullard has played most of his golf on the American college circuit, representing Scottsdale Community College. The former Durbanite was one of South Africa’s leading amateurs, playing alongside the likes of Tim Clark and Rory Sabbatini, now regulars on the US PGA Tour.
Another Scot, Greig Hutcheon, opened with 69 as did Argentina's Sebastian Fernandez, the current leader on the Challenge Tour rankings, while defending champion Marc Cayeux, who carded a 67 in the Pro-Am, struggled to a three-over par 76.