Maseko geared up for Africa Open qualifying battle

Thabo Maseko won’t have time to take in too much of the breath-taking scenery at Tuesday’s Africa Open pre-qualifying round at Fish River Sun Country Club.

Maseko is one of 83 golfers vying for 10 spots in the €1-million Sunshine Tour event co-sanctioned by the European Tour – and he will be doing so at the scenic jewel of the Amathole District Municipality where the Africa Open had its origins in 2008.

Maseko wants to be one of the field of 156 which will tee off at the East London Golf Club on Thursday, and, in a move to give his professional career a boost, he has signed a management agreement with Lumenrock Sport Management International (LSMI).

Maseko’s stablemates at LSMI include two-time European Tour champion Hennie Otto, Sunshine Tour winners Keith Horne, Teboho Sefatsa and Andrew Curlewis, professionals Monique Smit, Toto Thimba and Pieter Kruger, as well as top SA amateurs Alana van Greuning and Nicole Loesch.

Maseko joined the Sunshine Tour in 2012 with a top-10 finish at the Vusi Ngubeni Qualifying School.

When he left the amateur circuit, he was ranked seventh in South Africa. He won the 2011 Northern Amateur Open Match Play, placed third at the 2010 Egypt Amateur and posted a top-30 finish at the 2010 Scottish Amateur. He also represented South Africa at the Africa Zone VI Golf Championships in Gaborone in 2010 and was a member of the Central Gauteng Inter-Provincial team in 2010 and 2011.

During his rookie season, Maseko claimed a top-20 finish at the Indo Zambia Bank Zambia Open, a tie for 21st at the Vodacom Origins Sishen and top 10s at the Big Easy Tour’s Observatory and ERPM tournaments.

He was also a regular blogger for the Sunshine Tour website during his rookie season, where he gave golf fans insight into the ups and downs a golfer experiences in the transition from amateur to professional golf, by writing about his own experiences.

However, before the young gun can take on Horne, Sefatsa and other top Sunshine Tour champions like Thomas Aiken, Jaco van Zyl and Garth Mulroy in Buffalo City, there is the little matter of the Tuesday qualifier.

“It’s going to be very tough, because there are so many players challenging for the 10 spots,” he said. “But it’s the same for all of us. Everyone has to grunt it out in the qualifiers until you make the top 65 on the Sunshine Tour’s Order of Merit and get automatic qualification.

“It’s good though, because the qualifiers help you to become more focussed and determined.”

With reporting by Lali Stander

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