Darren Fichardt (Getty Images)
There was rust in Darren Fichardt's first round of the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open, but his putting was as good as ever as he carded a six under par 66 to take an early share of the lead.
His opening round in the Sunshine Tour event at Royal Harare Golf Club was matched by Italy's Aron Zemmer, with Jared Harvey, Divan van den Heever, Charl Coetzee, Titch Moore and Mark Murless in an early share of second at four under.
"In the last two tournaments before I took a break after the Investec Cup, I was exhausted," said Fichardt. "I played my first round in the pro-am yesterday, and I felt really rested. I made eight bogeys in that round, so it was certainly very rusty."
He made three bogeys in the first round, so that was a move in the right direction - and those dropped shots were cancelled out by seven birdies and an eagle.
"My putter is still treating me well," he said. "The greens are very quick which is good, but the 15th - my sixth - caught me by surprise when I had a par putt from twice as far out as my birdie attempt."
Zemmer, who hails from Northern Italy, who is playing on the Alps Mini-Tour in the European summer and trying his hand on the Sunshine Tour in the winter, made two three-putts on his way to his 66, and both led to the only bogeys on his card which had two eagles and five birdies on it.
Defending champion Chris Swanepoel opened with a three-under 69, as did 2011 winner Theunis Spangenberg, and they were joined by 16 year old Zimbabwe amateur Sean Crocker.
The next best Zimbabwean player in the morning was Ryan Cairns, who fought back from a horror start - he was three over through three - to close at one under, five off the pace.