Zim pair off to solid start in USA

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ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe’s top-ranked junior golfers Kieran Vincent and David Amm made a strong start to their campaign at the 52nd Junior Orange Bowl International Golf tournament after carding identical rounds of level-par 71 in Sunday’s first round in Coral Gables, Florida, United States of America. 

The pair put themselves in pole position to challenge for the coveted title as they finished the opening day just two shots behind defending champion Joaquin Niemann of Chile, who set the target at the 6 742 yard layout at two under 69.

Norway’s Kristoffer Reitan is alone in third place on one-under-par 70, while Vincent and Amm are tied alongside France’s David Ravetto, Robert Foley from Switzerland, Belgium’s Adrien Dumont de Chassart and Will Dickson on even-par 71.

Reigning champion Niemann, who has already earned a scholarship at the University of South Florida, said his greatest ambition was to become the first golfer to successfully defend the Orange Bowl title.

“It would be so cool,” he said after Sunday’s opening round. “I played well today, but I can play better,” he said of a four birdie-two bogeys round, noting that for the main the gusty conditions didn’t affect his ball striking. “I didn’t miss fairways but I’d like to putt a bit better tomorrow.”

Niemann, however, faces a tough challenge from the Zimbabwean duo of Vincent and Amm, who are hoping to emulate the late Zimbabwean golfer Lewis Chitengwa (Jnr), who famously beat Tiger Woods to win the 1992 edition of the tournament.

Chitengwa (Jnr), who was inducted into the Southern Africa Golf Hall of Fame in June, remains the only African golfer to win the event.

Young Vincent, who finished sixth at the same tournament last year got off to decent start with eight straight pars before managing a birdie on the ninth to turn in one-under-par 34.

He then made bogey on the tenth hole, but immediately birdied the 11th to stay at one under.

The Zimbabwe Amateur Matchplay Champion dropped two shots in his last five holes with bogeys on the 13th and 17th, but an earlier birdie on par-five 15th ensured he finished tied for fourth position on the leaderboard heading into the second round.

Amm traded a bogey with a birdie in his first two holes before double bogeying the sixth and dropping another shot on the seventh.

The reigning Zimbabwe number one junior shaved a shot off his deficit with a birdie at the par-four ninth before managing three more birdies and just one bogey on the back nine.

The other Zimbabwean in the field Justin Kirsten was tied for position 31 after carding an opening round of four-under-par 75.

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