Toto Thimba, Jnr took on Royal Swazi Golf Club and led the pre-qualifying round for the Investec Royal Swazi Sun Open on Tuesday after his aggressive play was rewarded by the eventÂs modified stableford scoring format.
ÂI love this scoring system, because you play aggressive golf, and I like that. ItÂs a nice format for me to try to win. I need to play well, I have to play well – IÂm going to go for it this week,Â he said.
Thimba played bold golf, which led to nine birdies during the day, topped off with an eagle at the 12th, and by the close of qualifying he was six points clear of second-place finisher Alan Michell.
ÂThe course is looking beautiful and the greens are running nicely,Â said Thimba. ÂThe way IÂm putting, the way IÂm playing Â IÂve got a lot of confidence and IÂm here to win the tournament.Â
The event is played under a modified stableford scoring system, with eight points for an albatross, five for an eagle, two for a birdie and none for par. One point is deducted for every bogey and three for double or worse.
Thimba seemed incredibly comfortable at the short, risk-and-reward Royal Swazi course and added: ÂI struck the ball well, putted well and I was just hitting it very close. I told my caddie that we just need one of the spots on offer today. After that everything just started going,Â he said.
It was a superb showing by the 26-year-old, a recent winner on the Sunshine Big Easy Tour, and he took only 63 strokes to finish the round. ÂIÂm happy with my game ÂitÂs improved a lot since I won on the Big Easy Tour. IÂm working hard on it and now I want to win every time I play,Â he said.
Michell made eight birdies during the day and dropped a lone shot at the par-four 11th. He looked solid as he went round in 65 strokes, bagging a total of 15 points to comfortably make his way through qualifying.
Grant Veenstra and Steven Ferreira finished tied for third on 13 points, followed by a four-way tie for fifth between Henk Alberts, Coenie Bester, Lindani Ndwandwe and Dean Burmester.
Mark Williams, Derik Ferreira, Nathan Waghorn and Steve Basson tied for ninth on 11 points each, but only 10 spots were on offer. A playoff ensued and Basson and Waghorn claimed the last places.