Local golfers swing into the big league

2013-03-03 10:00

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New graduates Kenneth Dube and John Bele say they are determined to make their mark on the competitive Sunshine Tour.

They are among 15 players who have obtained cards to swing their clubs in the elite 2013 Sunshine Tour after carding scores of up to three under par, and 285 and better at the Vusi Ngobeni Qualifying School at Observatory Golf Club in Joburg last month.

The school is named after Vusi Ngobeni, a former Sunshine Tour board member and director of Eskom who was killed in a car accident in 2003.

It offers players from historically disadvantaged communities the chance to display their talent.

The contest was won by Makgetha Mazibuko, who registered -21 for a total of 267.

Dube said obtaining the card was a breath of fresh air and a big chance for him to compete on the big stage locally.

His first big break in top-flight competition was the Sunshine/European Tour co-sanctioned Joburg Open at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club last month, but he could not reach the qualifying rounds after shooting a score of 68 – instead of 67 – on the first day.

The Brakpan-based Dube (42) also packed his golf bag and headed for East London three weeks ago to contest in another co-sanctioned event, the Africa Open, but he missed the cut there as well.

“It’s a great feeling to play in the Sunshine Tour, where there is big money at stake. The only snag is that it’s expensive because you have to finance yourself whenever you are on tour and dig deep into your pocket to pay the caddie,” said Dube, adding that he was determined to work hard on his game and win one of the major trophies in the big league.

Dube, a club professional who is also a director at the Royal Oak Golf Club, registered to compete in the Tshwane Open that got under way on Thursday at The Els Golf Copperleaf in Pretoria. The final round will be played today.

Bele (36), who has gained invaluable experience as a professional golfer, says he is determined to make an impression in the big league.

The West Rand, Kagiso-based golfer, who has been a professional for 13 years, will be up to the challenge on the more competitive fairways.

“Look, graduating has renewed my passion for golf,” he says.

“I’m pleased that I will compete against some of the top dogs.”

Having not played a single game since his elevation from the qualifying school, Bele said he was also crossing his fingers that he would make the grade in the Tshwane Open.

The soft-spoken golfer is an experienced campaigner who forfeited his card three years ago because of being inactive.

Bele is no rookie on the big stage, having previously taken part in events such as the Alfred Dunhill Championship in 2006 and the SA Open in 2007.

With the Sunshine Winter Tour on the horizon, both competitors, Dube and Bele, are getting themselves in shape to take to the greens.

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