LUSAKA, Zambia – Stefan Wears-Taylor now really feels he belongs as one of the main contenders on the Sunshine Tour after his 2022/23 campaign, his fourth season in the professional ranks, was his most successful yet, so it was fitting that he says his mindset was his strongest attribute as he soared to the top of the leaderboard after the second round of the Zanaco Masters at the Lusaka Golf Club on Friday.
Wears-Taylor backed up his 67 on the first day with a fantastic six-under-par 66 on Friday, which lifted him to 11-under-par at the midway point of the tournament. The Centurion Country Club representative collected eight birdies in all, four of them in a row from the 15th hole as he ended his opening nine in spectacular fashion.
He is not alone on 11-under-par, however, with Sean Bradley and Zimbabwe’s Robson Chinhoi sharing the lead with him.
Bradley managed to fit in seven birdies and an eagle in his superb 64, while Chinhoi collected four birdies on the front nine in his 67.
Wears-Taylor finished 24th on the order of merit last season and claimed his first Sunshine Tour title in the MediClinic Invitational on his home course in March. He then made a solid start to the new season by finishing 17th in the FBC Zimbabwe Open. Friday’s round at a sunny Lusaka Golf Club was a continuation of that form.
“My attitude on the first two days is what I’m most proud of. I started the first round with a few errant shots to the left, which is unusual for me,” Wears-Taylor explained. “But I’ve just stayed patient and enjoyed my day out on the course, enjoying where I’m walking and there are some huge trees here which are fascinating.
“I’ve just been staying positive because this golf course is going to bite you if you make mistakes. I started on the 10th and I had a productive morning, slowly building momentum until I had the wind in my sails and then some putts fell in the last few holes and I hit a very nice Sand-Wedge to three feet on the 17th.
“Things slowed down a little after the turn, unfortunately I made some soft mistakes, but that will happen on this tough course. There are tight tee shots on both nines and visually, you have overhanging trees which makes it complicated for the eye. And it’s definitely simpler hitting from the fairways because the greens are tough with firm bounces if you don’t get spin.
“But I’ve built up experience over the last couple of years. It takes time to find your feet on tour, especially because I didn’t have any real amateur background.
“It’s taken time to get to where I am, but I am seeing steady growth and learning more about myself both as a player and a person. I’m really enjoying the journey and hopefully it leads to a long and fruitful career,” Wears-Taylor said.
Chinhoi said his ball-striking and approaches to the greens were his strong points on Friday.
“It was a good day for me, I’m so happy with how I am striking the ball and my control on the greens. The trick though is off the tee, I used Driver on most holes and I was just trying to be more aggressive.
“I am so grateful to see my name at the top of the leaderboard and I will keep to the same strategy and just try to keep it rolling. It shows that I am just as good as everyone here and I will just keep focusing and pressing,” Chinhoi said.
First-round leaders Neil Schietekat and David Wicks are still strongly placed just one shot off the leaders after they both shot three-under 69s on Friday, and Trevor Fisher Jnr (67) and Malcolm Mitchell (65) are a stroke further back.