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Ken Borland

Only prim & proper that Ace-man Zanotti should be top of the leaderboard upon the NGC’s return to Sun City 0

Posted on February 08, 2023 by Ken

Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti is the only golfer to claim a hole-in-one in the 40 years of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, so it was perhaps only prim and proper that he should be at the top of the leaderboard at the end of his first round on Thursday as Africa’s Major returned to Sun City.

With the limited fields in existence for most of the famous event’s history, it took 35 years for the first ace to be recorded, with Zanotti the man to make history when he sunk his seven-iron on the 195m par-three fourth hole in the second round in 2016.

On that occasion, his eagle took him to the top of the leaderboard, but unfortunately he could not hold on to that position as a 78 in the third round saw him tumble, but a 72 on the final day did see him finish tied-16th.

On Thursday he also did not stay at the top of the pile, as he was overtaken by Guido Migliozzi and then Luke Donald and Ryan Fox, but his excellent four-under-par 68 means he is very much in contention to be the first South American winner of the tournament.

The 39-year-old Zanotti smiled broadly when reminded of his 2016 feat and asked whether the Nedbank Golf Challenge has a special place in his heart.

“I really like it here and you play holes and see places where you hit really good shots before. But this time I nearly hit it in the water on the fourth!

“But my play from the tee was one of the good things today. I made a great start on the 10th with a birdie and then it was just about keeping patient.

“The wind always gets harder here and sometimes you miss the direction. And a few of the pin positions are very difficult, a bit inaccessible, but it is pretty fair overall.

“The greens are still a little soft, but as they get harder then the pin positions will be tougher,” Zanotti said.

The two-time DP World Tour winner is ranked 48th on the order of merit, so he was understandably happy with his start to this Rolex Series event, tied in fourth place, four off the lead, with the top-50 on the points list going through to next week’s World Tour Championship finale in Dubai.

“I’ve been really steady this year, made a lot of cuts and had a few good results. But I need a good week here and I want to put four good rounds together because I always seem to make a few mistakes and have one poor round.

“At the beginning of the season, you always plan to be there in Dubai at the end, it was one of my goals. I am three days away from doing it, but I just need to be very patient in my thinking,” Zanotti said.

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