Tough Thabang has an edge to his game

Thabang Simon was understandably nervous as he teed off in the opening round of the R100,000 Sunshine Big Easy Tour event presented by Stonehage at Irene Country Club on Tuesday.

Even a professional golfer playing in his umpteenth tournament is nervous every time he tees off, but Simon was nervous about the knife wound on the palm of his right hand and how it would affect his grip as the round wore on.

The Sunshine Tour professional who turns 37 next week, fought off two attackers last Saturday while he was on his way home, and wrested the knife from one of them while defending himself. He managed to inflict some damage with the knife before the pair fled.

“They didn’t get anything,” said Simon, who was still sporting some of the resulting scratches and grazes under his golf cap after he completed his first round at Irene.

He also had a cut along the length of his palm, which was miraculously not deep enough to require serious medical attention, and that made him tentative during the first five holes at Irene, during which he made four pars and a bogey.

“But then I played golf the way I defended myself,” said Simon. “Aggressively!”

He carded four birdies and an eagle-three to finish his round at five-under-par 67, one off the pace set by Riekus Nortje.

He will be looking for his second victory on the Big Easy Tour to go with his win last year at ERPM Golf Club during Wednesday’s second round, and a good result will lift him from his current 25th position on the Order of Merit.

Nortje and Ross Wellington, who play in the final round with Simon, better not get in his way!

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