30th June 2019 | Sunshine Tour
Thimba claims the Blue Jacket in Nairobi
Toto Thimba told the media in Nairobi on Friday that he was going to win the KCB Karen Masters by 10 shots, and on Sunday, he shot a final-round 65 to total 26-under-par 262 to claim his maiden Sunshine Tour victory, albeit by three shots at Karen Country Club.
He went into the final round trailing Stephen Ferreira by a single stroke at 19-under-par, and after opening with a par on the first, he made an eagle on the second to pull away from Ferreira who had dropped on the first hole. Thimba then backed that up with a birdie but made back-to-back bogeys on the par-three fifth hole and the sixth. He bounced back from those with another birdie on seven for a 34 on the front nine.
A birdie on the 10th was followed by an eagle on the 12th but, again, he dropped, and this time on the par-three 13th. A run of three birdies on the trot from the 15th through to the 17th before closing with a welcomed par on the last to become the first member of the Gary Player Class to win a tournament since the programme was instituted in 2016.
“To be honest, I’m really impressed with the way I played this week,” he said. “I’ve been working on my state of mind, you know. Everyone said ‘you’re playing well and why can’t you win?’. So, I had to sit down and check myself and see why can’t I win. So, I started reading books of authors like Les Brown, Eric Thomas and that was a turning point in my life because that made me strong mentally and I had a great attitude this week.”
Known on Tour to be among the humblest of players, Thimba was very confident, if not bullish, in Nairobi this week, opting for an aggressive approach to the tournament in his search for that first win.
“I knew I was going to win,” he said on Sunday. “This win is for my mentor, Zekiel Moore, who lost a wife and a son, and I said I was going to win it for him.” In a way that only Thimba can be, he refuses to claim the victory as his own, instead dedicating it to fellow Gary Player Class members.
“This one is for the Gary Player Class,” he said. “They are my brothers and we work hard together. I am still going to win for them. I want to win them all but this one is for all the African golfers and I hope it can open some doors for all of us.”
The Gary Player Class, the Sunshine Tour’s development programme which benefits from the longstanding support of the South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB), founded in 1999 by Johann Rupert as the official body for golf development in South Africa, as well as the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation (EEFF) in a collective effort to use golf to improve the lives of disadvantaged South Africans.
Thimba becomes the third first-time winner this season following the victories of Garrick Higgo at Sun City, Jake Redman at the Lombard Insurance Classic and Martin Rohwer who claimed the Investec Royal Swazi Open.