South Africa’s Toto Thimba: If I won the SA Open it would open a lot of doors for a lot of people and black professionals. Photo: Michael Sherman (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa’s Toto Thimba Jnr is hoping to inspire a new generation of black golfers in the country, and his opening seven-under 64 on the Bushwillow course at Randpark Golf Club was the first step towards that lofty goal on Thursday.

Thimba was two shots behind American leader Johannes Veerman (62) and Italy’s Nino Bertasio on eight-under 63.

Asked what a win in his national open would mean, Thimba said: “It will make a huge impact for me. I want to be an icon and inspiration. I want to inspire people to do good. If I won the SA Open it would open a lot of doors for a lot of people and black professionals. That’s my goal.”

With two courses in use before the cut on Friday, Thimba ensured he posted a low one before taking on, what is considered to be the more difficult, Firethorn in the second round. Only three scores in the top-14 in the early stages of round one came on Firethorn. 

Despite the low scores on Bushwillow, Thimba insisted the players needed to be at their best to post the low rounds.

“It wasn’t playing easy, but the way I was playing it looked easy. I was putting well, I only had 28 putts.”

A solid all-round game was key to the 33-year-old’s success he explained.

Toto Thimba has high aspirations at the 2020 SA Open. Photo: Sunshine Tour

“I’m very pleased with the round I had - I was hitting the ball well. I only missed three fairways. I’ve been struggling with my driver but it was good today. I feel like I want to win this tournament so badly.”

Thimba is 14th on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit with R540 791 to his name this season, and a top performance in the co-sanctioned event this week would go a long way in cementing his place near the top of the moneylist.

Lurking ominously, though, is player-host and defending champion Louis Oosthuizen on six-under 65 (Bushwillow). The 37-year-old Major champion hinted his play would continue to improve as he looks to defend his title.

“There were a few shots that I looked at funny, but the nice thing after a holiday is that my swing gets shorter, so in a way that’s actually better for my game,” said Oosthuizen.

“I hit it well yesterday in practice, and it just takes a few rounds to come right.” 

African News Agency (ANA)