Johannesburg – South Africa’s Toto Thimba Jnr is hoping he can deliver a performance which will inspire a nation, as the Joburg Open tees off at Randpark Golf Club on Thursday.
The co-sanctioned European and Sunshine Tour event presents a chance for local players to earn their playing privileges abroad, and that possibility is life-changing.
As for Thimba, who won the KCB Masters in Kenya just over two years ago, he believes he can compete with some of the bigger name players in the marquee field.
“If I win this tournament, it will inspire all the young kids out there. It will give a lot of kids hope and just encourage them. If I win, I think it would be amazing,” said Thimba.
“We’ve got Dean Burmester, Brandon Stone, Richard Sterne. Oliver Bekker just got his European Tour card which is good. We’ve got a number of good players this week,” he said before adding “and we’ve got me - I’m playing.”
Adopting the mantra of playing to win, and not just competing, Simba said: “I’m not putting too much pressure on myself. I think mentally I’m feeling good. We’ll see how it goes this week, the way I’m hitting the ball, the way I’m putting, I don’t see why I can’t do well. We enter tournaments so we can win.”
Indeed, Thimba may not be the first SA player on the lips of many fans. However, he has more to play for than some of his compatriots like Stone and George Coetzee who have already achieved considerable European Tour success.
“It’s a big event for us, and if you win it will open doors as you’ll get your European Tour card. It’s a very important tournament to start with. I don’t see why the South Africans won’t do well.”
The 35-year-old explained that he has seen good improvement in his game recently.
“I’m feeling good about how I’m playing. At the moment I’m hitting my irons well. I’ve been working hard on my distance control. And my putting, I’ve put in a lot of work there.”
Earlier, 21-year-old Wilco Nienaber said the course will favour the big-hitters like himself, and Thimba added that the short holes will also need close attention.
“You need to play the par fives and par threes well. I think if you can shoot around four or five under each round you’ll do well.”
African News Agency (ANA)