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20th May 2023

Happy Wicks the man to beat in Zanaco Masters

LUSAKA, Zambia Sunshine Tour rookie David Wicks fired a bogey-free five-under-par 67 on Saturday for a one-stroke lead heading into the final round of the Zanaco Masters at Lusaka Golf Club, but even though a victory would make a world of difference for the Englishman’s career, he said winning is not that important for him on Sunday.

The 29-year-old Wicks previously competed on the EuroPro Tour, but last year decided to give up his professional career, before his management agency suggested he try the Sunshine Tour. Coming to Southern Africa has been a game-changer for Wicks, as he finished sixth in Q-School and then enjoyed his best performance as a professional in finishing in a tie for 15thin the season-opening FBC Zimbabwe Open a fortnight ago.

A congested leaderboard now stands between him and a remarkable maiden victory, with at least a dozen golfers in with a shout for the title. While Wicks is on 15-under-par, Sean Bradley (-14), Robson Chinhoi (-13) and Stefan Wears-Taylor (-12) are leading the chasing pack.

Gerhard Trytsman and the in-form Neil Schietekat are on 11-under, while six golfers are on 10-under, including seasoned champion Hennie Otto and previous Tour winners in Jake Redman, Ryan van Velzen and Martin Rohwer.

“I’m not sure how I’m going to handle the nerves and emotions in the final round, but I am in a really happy spot at the moment and a happy golfer is tough to beat,” Wicks said.

“It doesn’t matter if I win or lose, as long as I stick to my process and keep smiling. If I do that, then it doesn’t matter to me if I win the tournament of not. I will still look back on the week as a success, because I’m confident that if I stick to my process then it will yield a win at some stage.

“It’s about building a foundation and winning for me is really irrelevant, it’s about sticking to my process, having fun, enjoying what I’m doing. And then I will add up my score at the end and see where I stand,” Wicks said.

While the likes of Bradley, who followed up his 64 in the second round with a 69 on Saturday that included two eagles and four birdies, Chinhoi (70, four birdies) and Wears-Taylor (71, five birdies) produced some scintillating play, Wicks showed there is sometimes no replacement for good, old-fashioned error-free golf.

“Going bogey-free was very important for me, both mentally and for my score. When other people are making lots of birdies and eagles, dropping even one shot can feel like a double-bogey,” Wicks said.

“Fortunately I did not make any silly mistakes to drop back, while amidst all the birdies on the rest of the leaderboard there were lots of bogeys and doubles too.

“My plan was to first and foremost make par and then go for birdie,” Wicks said.

It sounds like the sort of plan which could yield a life-changing victory on Sunday.