Patient Ahlers leads the charge in FBC Zim Open

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  • Post published:May 10, 2024

Jaco Ahlers has admitted to some frustration over how his 2024 has gone so far, but the 41-year-old put all that aside on Thursday 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.

Ahlers began the year with three missed cuts in his first four events spread between the Sunshine and Asian tours, but a runners-up finish in March in the Stella Artois Championship, finishing just a stroke behind winner Heinrich Bruiners at Dainfern, marked a change in fortunes. Since then he finished tied-10th at the Saudi Open and was tied-13th in the Waterfall City Tournament of Champions powered by Attacq last weekend at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington’s East Course.

On Thursday, Ahlers was in sublime form as he started his 2024/25 Sunshine Tour campaign in rampant fashion on the 10thhole 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 on Thursday. 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 Scott Vincent, the experienced Anthony Michael and former University of North Texas college golfer Jason Roets.


-7 – Jaco Ahlers
-6 – Michael Hollick
-5 – Anthony Michael, Scott Vincent, Jacques Blaauw, Darren Fichardt, Jason Roets
-4 – Combrinck Smit, MJ Viljoen, Doug McGuigan
-3 – James Mack, Herman Loubser, Warwick Purchase, JC Ritchie, Madalitso Muthiya
-2 – Louis Albertse, Conner Mackenzie, Kyle Barker, Jovan Rebula, Quintin Wilsnach, Martin Vorster, Jaco Van Zyl, Kyle De Beer, Yurav Premlall, Thanda Mavundla, Benjamin Follett-Smith, Adam Breen
-1 – Njoroge Kibugu, Dylan O’Leary, Ethan Smith, Gerhard Pepler, Daniel van Tonder, Kieran Vincent, Dylan Mostert, Alex Haindl, Mathew Bramford, Samuel Simpson, Nick Cunningham, Irvin Mazibuko, Biggie Chibvuri, Christiaan Basson, Danie Van Niekerk, Ricky Hendler, Keagan Thomas, Fredrik From, Trevor Mahoney

Issued by Michael Vlismas Media

Photo by Tyrone Winfield/Sunshine Tour