Irvin Mazibuko took the lessons he learned observing his fellow professionals and put them to good use in a 3&2 defeat of Ruan de Smidt on Tuesday in the ISPS Handa South African Match Play Championship.
Mazibuko walked the final round of last weekÂs Sun Coast Classic, paying particular attention to Doug McGuigan, and his observations helped him defeat the man who won last weekÂs tournament in the first Sunshine Tour match play tournament in 25 years.
ÂI was checking what the difference is between me and some of the top professionals,Â said Mazibuko, Âand I found that it was shot-making. IÂve got the same game as they have, but theyÂve got better shot-making.
ÂI was watching Dougie most closely,Â he added. ÂAnd when I got back home after last week, when I was practicing, I was trying to do what I saw him doing on the golf course. And that fed through to my game today.Â
He started his match against De Smidt with a bang: Birdies on each of the opening three holes on the 6,442-metre Zwartkops Country Club gave him an early three-hole cushion. Another win on the sixth put him four holes clear, and, although De Smidt finally got into the match with a win on 13, the gap was too big to close.
ÂI just tried to hit the ball in play where I could see it,Â said Mazibuko. ÂI didnÂt get nervous when he started coming back at me. I hit a poor shot on 13, couldnÂt recover and conceded the hole. And I hit a poor shot again on 15.Â
Like many of the professionals in the field, Mazibuko had to think hard about when he last played anything other than friendly match play. ÂIt was in 2000, I think, when I played for Central Gauteng as an amateur.
His victory will see him up against Matthew Carvell who defeated Brett Liddle after the 21st hole.