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Why Karen Masters was big win for Africa golfers

Toto Thimba
Toto Thimba (Jnr) celebrates with KCB Masters Trophy last weekend at Karen Golf and Country Club. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO | NMG 

At the conclusion of the 2019 KCB Karen Masters, the words of the victor, South Africa’s 33-year old Toto Thimba Jnr rang true. “This win is for all black professional golfers in Africa, I trust that this win will open doors for more black Pros across Africa, we must support one another,” he said fighting back tears. “I have worked hard for this moment and now I want to win some of the big ones.”

Thimba’s victory at the Karen Country Club was one of many dreams that came true; this was his first victory on the Sunshine Tour and he did so with a record breaking score of 26-under par.

“Many people have said to me that there was nothing wrong with my game, but I wasn’t winning, so I reflected and checked myself, focused on my mind, read some motivational books by authors like America’s Eric D. Thomas and Les Brown and this was a turning point in my life. I am now stronger mentally and I came to Kenya with a good attitude.”

Thimba’s four round score of 26-under par – made up of rounds of 68, 63, 66 and 65 – was extraordinarily good given the tough playing conditions of the Karen course.

The fairways were narrow and firm, the rough was thick and the greens were quick but receptive. These conditions didn’t seem to bother Thimba who hit long drives all day every day down the centre of most fairways and neither did they seem to bother second placed Stephen Ferreira who played the golf of his life and shot a course record 10-under par score through the first round.

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Thimba responded to Ferreira’s course record with a 9-under par score of 63 through the second round.

Thimba, a resident of Mamelodi turned Pro in 2007; he first played golf at the age of six in the company of his father Toto Thimba senior. According to his caddy Percy Twala, Thimba Jnr showed potential from an early age.

“I am older than Thimba Jnr and I have watched him mature into a good golfer and an even better gentleman,” Twala said. “We have journeyed together and he has always treated me like a brother and confidant, and I am so overjoyed by this victory and the boys in Mamelodi, in the townships will be celebrating with us.”

The Sunshine Tour first admitted non-white players in 1991 and in those early days the likes of John Mashego and Lindani Ndwandwe registered victories on the Tour.

“My goal is now on the big events on Tour beginning with the SA Open,” Thimba Jnr added. “It is our time now.”

With the Kenyan golf fans adopting Thimba Jnr as one of their own, chants of “Toto, Toto” could be heard through the fourth and final round of the 2019 KCB Karen Masters. “Toto is a Kenyan,” one of the Kenyan fans said.

“This is a Kenyan victory, we will celebrate it as such!”

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