New leaf for Houghton winner Toto

Toto Thimba, Jnr has turned the page on his career – he gained a new sponsorship from Sun International just a fortnight ago, and on Wednesday won the Houghton tournament of the Sunshine Big Easy Tour presented by Stonehage.

“I have to thank Sun International, because their support has made me more relaxed, and now I believe I can win any tournament. I think good things come to those who wait, and I have waited for years. This win came at the right time and the right place – I feel like a champ,” he said.

The 26-year-old shot 67 on the second day and reached 11-under-par, finishing the R100 000 event a stroke clear of Ross Wellington, who charged to 10-under with a second-round 64.

“I was in the zone – I didn’t care about the scores or anything, I just knew that I had to make birdies, said Thimba. “My playing partners were struggling, and I knew that I was playing well, and that made me realize that I had to make my move.”

The Silver Lakes Country Club professional became the second graduate from the Ernie Els Fancourt Foundation to win on the Sunshine Big Easy Tour after Derick Petersen took victory at Observatory Golf Club last year.

By the time he reached the 18th, Thimba knew that victory was within his grasp but remained cautious. “On 18 I was nervous because yesterday I didn’t hit it great with my driver. Today I took my three-wood and hit it perfect. I had 150 in and I told my caddie ‘Anywhere on the green and two-putt and the rest is history.’ And now I’ve made history,” he said.

Wellington made a serious move during the second round, topping off an eight-birdie tally with an eagle at the fifth. Bogeys at the seventh and 18th undermined his charge and he finished second, yet it was no small feat – his 64 broke the course record.

Mark Williams, Ruan de Smidt and amateur Musiwalo Nethunzwi shared third at six-under.
Williams finished the 2011 Houghton tournament tied second, and once again showed his favour for the course with a second-round 67.

De Smidt, who holds fifth on the Sunshine Tour Rookie of the Year race, also shone during the second round and carded 68 to claim his share of third.

Yet Nethunzwi was the real surprise of the tournament – not often do amateurs thrive under pressure – but he shot rounds of 68 and 70. The Soweto Country Club professional will take a serious confidence boost away from this week’s performance.

For Thimba, the victory was a long time coming – he felt he had turned the page on his career, and added: “This feels fantastic. It just brings a lot of confidence and I feel like I can win any tournament.”

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