After claiming his maiden victory on the Sunshine Tour last month, Allan Versfeld entrenched his status as one of the rising stars of South African golf. Simon Masilo certainly sees him as such. And he should know. As the regular caddie for Ernie Els whenever heÂs played in South Africa for the past 17 years, Masilo knows a thing or two about a good golf swing.
The 56-year-old Masilo was just about ready to retire as a fulltime caddie when the call came through to work with Versfeld.
ÂWe started this week,Â says Masilo, who carried VersfeldÂs bag through WednesdayÂs first round of the Vodacom Origins of Golf tournament at Selborne Hotel, Spa and Golf Estate. Versfeld opened with a two-under-par 70 to be three strokes off the early clubhouse lead held by Jared Harvey.
ÂThe great thing is, this kid makes me feel like IÂm 40 again. WeÂll see how it goes. I think Allan is a good youngster with a lot of potential to become one of the better players. IÂm glad to have the opportunity to work with him, and weÂll just take it step-by-step,Â says Masilo.
Versfeld certainly appreciates having a man of MasiloÂs experience on his shoulder. ÂWeÂve been friends for a long time. He agreed to caddie for me and itÂs probably going to be fulltime. You just learn from all of his experience, and I think weÂll make a good team.Â
But Versfeld will have to make way for Els when the reigning Open champion returns to South Africa for a few tournaments at the end of the year. Masilo will be on hand to take ElsÂs bag, as always.
ÂWhen Ernie comes back, hopefully IÂll have his bag again. HeÂs the man, and he takes good care of me,Â says Masilo, who was one of the first to send Els a text message congratulating him on his Open triumph.
ÂIt reminded me of all the South African Opens weÂve won together. Those are some of my favourite memories with Ernie. We played fantastic golf during all his SA Open wins.Â