Black golfers swing their way towards success

2011-06-11 15:27

It has long been the quest of South ­African golf to uncover its first black star.

When Lindani Ndwandwe won the 2001 Western Cape Classic, he was the first black winner on the Sunshine Tour in over a decade.

And 2009 was a particularly successful year with his victorieswins by ­Ndwandwe in the Highveld Classic and Prinavin Nelson in the SAA Pro-Am ­Invitational.

But post-apartheid, the country is still searching for a Papwa Sewgolum or Vincent Tshabalala who is capable of winning internationally and becoming the next big name to emerge from South African fairways.

There has been much excitement around James Kamte, who has certainly proved himself to be a talented campaigner on the Sunshine Tour and had the game to win in Asia, but who has yet to take the next step up to a regular place on the European Tour.

But two black professionals on the Sunshine Tour are willing to do ­whatever it takes to make a successful living from the game.

Irvin Mazibuko has gone so far as to move house from Soweto to ­Bloemfontein in his quest to improve.

“I just didn’t see myself getting better in Soweto. The surroundings weren’t good for me and I felt I needed a change of scenery,” said Mazibuko, who grew up caddying at the Soweto Golf Club in Pimville.

When he went out in the third last group in the final round of the recent Lombard Insurance Classic in ­Swaziland, there was a definite feeling that Mazibuko could be headed for a breakthrough victory on the Tour.

But a final round of 82 saw him finish tied 48th.

His career best finish was seventh in the 2010 Royal Swazi Open, and in 149 tournaments he’s earned R153 217.
He feels his game is now finally ­headed in the right direction.

“Swaziland was good for me because I’ve been working hard to get myself ­into that kind of position where I’m in with a chance to compete on the final day.

I’ve worked hard on the mental side of my game,” the 33-year-old said at this week’s Vodacom Origins of Golf tournament at Arabella.

“I feel my career is moving in the right direction now. I just need to give myself an opportunity every week and wait for that breakthrough.

For the past seven years I’ve really struggled ­financially, and that takes your focus off the game.”

Teboho Sefatsa is also hunting a maiden victory on the tour, but has ­enjoyed good finishes in some of the ­bigger events, such as 10th in the 2008 Nashua Masters and fifth in the 2009 Platinum Classic.

His desire to succeed is evidenced by his commitment to travel wherever he needs to for a tournament, all by car.

And if Gary Player is the world’s most travelled athlete, then Sefatsa owns the car that has probably travelled the most on the Sunshine Tour.

“It’s a 1989 VW Jetta.

I bought it from my brother in 1998, and then it already had 300 000km on the clock.

The clock stopped working then, so you can imagine how many ­kilometres it has done. And it’s still going like a dream on the same engine.

I ­travel all over with it, and I always get there.”

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