“I’m doing everything well – playing, putting, hitting – it all came together out there today. I’ve made a lot of changes this year and I’ve done a lot of hard work with my game, physically and mentally,” he said.
The 27-year-old didn’t put a foot wrong during a windy first round at Benoni, making six birdies and zipping one stroke ahead of veteran Kevin Stone.
“I made six birdies and no mistakes today, so I’m very pleased with the round,” said Thimba. “I also shot 66 in my practice round yesterday.”
In the last month the Mamelodi local has finished tied fifth at the Lombard Insurance Classic and made three cuts in his last three starts on the Sunshine Tour.
This week’s Benoni tournament marks the eighth instalment on the 2013 Big Easy roster and only three events remain before the Tour Championship.
Thimba took notice when Teboho Sefatsa won the 2012 Big Easy Order of Merit and then the BMG Classic a week later. He’d like to follow in those footsteps and progress to a main tour victory soon.
“I set goals for myself this year and I think I’m achieving them,” said Thimba. “I’m looking forward to winning more events this year, and hopefully I can get a better exemption category on the Sunshine Tour. I’m working hard on that.”
But for the moment the focus is on Benoni, where rain and wind are forecast for the final round on Wednesday. Mental strength will play a big part during the final round, but confidence is one of Thimba’s stengths.
“I do want to win the Big Easy Order of Merit, and I’ve been playing well on the Sunshine Tour as well. I’m confident with my game and that’s helping me to relax and play my best golf,” he explained.
Kevin Stone was the closest chaser on five-under-par, which he earned by hanging on through a rollercoaster first round. The 10-time Sunshine Tour winner knows how to keep a cool head, and he’ll certainly show Thimba a thing or two come Wednesday.
“I made three bogeys and a double, but also lots of birdies and an eagle, so it was liquorice allsorts today! I had four three-putts, but also made four birdies from inside a foot, so it really was a crazy day. Having the experience definitely helps you to recover from those tough holes,” he said.
The scoring was tough on Tuesday and only 22 of the 95 players broke par. Otto van Greunen brought up third place with his 68, while a further seven players shot 69 to share fourth.