His friendly tones make him extremely popular on his weekend show on 5FM, but Thomas Msengana is going to have to do let his golf do the talking if he is to beat Sunshine Tour professional JJ Senekal in the fifth annual Sunshine Tour Media Challenge on Royal Johannesburg and Kensington’s East course on Monday.
The event pits 50 Sunshine Tour professionals against members of the golf-related media in individual match play for the Khan-Winter trophy, named for two of South Africa’s most venerable golf writers, Iqbal Khan and Grant Winter.
That trophy has been convincingly won by the professionals in every year since the tournament’s 2011 inception.
Msengana, a passionate golfer who plays off a handicap of 12, will be hoping he can be part of media history by repeating his 2014 one-up victory over Senekal and inspiring his team-mates to keep the skills of the professionals from overwhelming the somewhat less impressive golfing abilities of the media for a fifth consecutive time.
But he will have his hands full against Senekal, who has found some form over the last two months on the Sunshine Tour, with three top-10 finishes in his last five tournaments, as well as a 13th place in last week’s Sun Fish River Sun Challenge.
“I’ve been working on my game quite hard recently,” said Senekal, “and I’ve gone back to the putter I used when I won on the Sunshine Tour in 2013. And I even played the East course on Sunday, so I’m ready for this match!”
Senekal did not know Masengana before they stepped onto the first tee in last year’s challenge, but the pair keep in touch since then. “I send requests to him to play some music on his shows, and when he takes to Twitter, I’m often there to respond,” said Senekal. “I’ve let him know that I think revenge will be sweet.”
Also playing in the event are the likes of former Springbok flyhalf and captain Naas Botha, now a rugby pundit on SuperSport, 702’s John Robbie, 947’s Darren ‘Whackhead’ Simpson and radio personality and Formula 1 fundi Sasha Martinengo. Botha is up against inveterate Bulls fan Doug McGuigan, Simpson takes on Neil Schietekat and Martinengo takes on the Sunshine Tour’s latest winner, rookie Rourke van der Spuy.