Sunshine, snakes and a super Swede at the 3e Actuaries Open

Super Swede Peter Gustafsson roared into the halfway lead at the 3e Actuaries Open in Mongomo after following up his impressive opening round of 4-under 68 with an even more assured 5-under today to sit at 9-under par for the tournament, three shots clear of Zambia’s Muthiya Madalitso.

The 2009 Tour de Las Americas Order of Merit winner, who has also played on the European Tour, took a year out from the game in 2015 but has returned to action this year and could be on course to end 2016 on a high in Equatorial Guinea if he can keep up his solid form over the remaining two days.

“I started the tournament off pretty well yesterday and then took off extremely well today, making two long putts on 10 and 11 and almost holing my approach on 13 so I got to 3-under very quickly,” said Gustafsson who has eight professional victories to his name.

“Then I played fairly ok all the way around – it was a bit iffy off the tee for a couple of holes in the middle but then I got it back for the last five holes and it was pretty solid, my putting was good.”

The 40 year old has travelled all over the world during his golfing career but this is his first visit to Equatorial Guinea and he’s loving the experience so far and looking to top off a great week with victory at the stunning Presidential Golf Course.

“I think the scenery in this country is fantastic and the design of the golf course is among the best I’ve ever seen,” he said.

“I’ve played in 65 different countries in the world and this a bit different, but it’s an adventure, it’s really nice.

“I had a year off in 2015 because of different reasons. I’ve been back playing this year as much as I can with a few invites on the European Tour and the Challenge Tour and now I’m going to Asia Tour qualifying school. So it would mean a lot for my confidence (to win this week) winning is winning so it would be great to do it here.”

On day when the umbrellas were needed as shade from the African sun, rather than as cover from the rain like yesterday several players delivered sizzling performances.

Madalitso followed up on his 68 yesterday with a 2 under par round of 70 to lie in second place at 6-under.

“It’s going great so far, I’ve been playing well,” he said. “I had a little bit of a blemish on the 15th where I made a triple bogey but I came back well and ended up shooting 2-under.

“It’s my first time in Equatorial Guinea and first time playing this tournament. It’s just a phenomenal golf course and a phenomenal tournament – you can see it’s in its inception but it’s growing steadily.”

Spain’s Xavier Puig was in red hot form with a 4-under 68 to move into third place at after yesterday’s level par opening round.

“I’m very happy with today’s round, especially the back nine, I hit so many good shots,” he said. “Most of my birdie putts were from one or two metres which was great because it’s tough to putt on these greens.  I played really well from tee to green.

“This is my third time at this event in Equatorial Guinea at this tournament and I love it. It’s a great golf course and all the staff are great – it’s a really nice tournament which is getting better every year.

“It would be amazing to win, and the prize fund is great but it’s still only halfway through the tournament with a lot of holes left to play but I’m in a good position.”

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In the ladies competition, Chile’s Paz Echeverria leads the way on 3-under after a solid level par round today. Abu Dhabi’s Luke Joy, who finished fourth in the event last year, is in a share of eighth place on level par.

Meanwhile there was a moment of drama that reminded the players and spectators that this is a unique ‘jungle golf’ experience when a cobra was spotted in the rough beside the first tee.

SNAKES

Let’s hope for more birdies and less snakes as the 2016 3e Actuaries Open reaches its climax over the next two days in Mongomo.

 

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