Little Takes One-Shot Lead in Zambia Open


Englishman Stuart Little may well look in the mirror and ask himself 'Are you a man or a mouse?' before he tees off in Sunday's final round of the Stanbic Zambia Open with a one-shot lead over halfway leader Graeme van der Nest.
Given that he has the same name as the popular white mouse that hit movie screens a couple of years ago and is also in the process of trying to resurrect his career as a fulltime touring pro, the question would be an appropriate one and hopefully he would be able to give the former answer before heading out to try to hold onto the lead after firing a bogey-free 5-under-par 68 on Saturday.
Little, who had started with rounds of 69 and 71, began the third round four behind Van der Nest, who is bidding for his first Sunshine Tour victory in six years, but after making five birdies, including fours at four of the course's par-5s, he found himself at the head of affairs on an 11-under-par total of 208.
That was because Van der Nest experienced a topsy-turvy day, making four birdies and four bogeys, the last of them at the par-4 17th, en route to a level-par 73.
Englishman Mark Barry Foster shot his third successive 70 to be two off the pace, level with Wallie Coetsee, the only member of the final three-ball to dip under par on Saturday, although he only managed a 72.
Joint first round leader Mattias Nilsson matched Van der Nest's 73 to fall back into a group of seven players sharing fifth spot on 211. That group also includes Zimbabwean Mark Cayeux, Pollack Park's Tyrol Auret and Swede Martin Olander, who fired nine birdies in an 8-under-par 65. Ulrich van den Berg, who set the pace with Nilsson on the first day, is one of six players four off the pace, after a 72.
Little, 33, spent five years on the Sunshine Tour when he first joined the paid ranks, from 1987, before a three-year stint on the main European Tour. He played the European Challenge Tour, of which this event is also a part, in 1995 and early 1996, before going back to his home town of Nailsworth in the Cotswolds, where he combined teaching the game and playing in South-West England.
'Towards the end of 1999, something came along and it was too good an
opportunity to turn down,' he said of his decision to go back to touring. Of Saturday's round, he said: 'I'm not really playing 100% at the moment, so my attitude is really the main thing; not allowing mistakes to get on top of me.'
That helped him to hold it together when potential bogeys loomed.
'There were three or four times when I got up and down to save par (after missing the green),' he said. Asked if he had expected to be near the top of the leaderboard after starting four behind, he said: 'I'm trying not to think too much about the scores. I tend to concentrate on putting together as good a score as I can and then see how it goes.'
He managed that well enough on Saturday, coming from well off the pace, but on Sunday will have to try to do the same thing from a position of strength.