Ngcobo and Nethunzwi cherish the experience on fairway, despite missing SA Open cut
The bitter taste of disappointment at not reaching his paramount goal of making the cut at the South African Open at the Randpark Golf Club may sting for now, but Thabiso Ngcobo says the entire experience will nonetheless remain invaluable.
Ngcobo was one of the young golfers who received invitations from tournament sponsor, the City of Joburg, who committed to extending invitations to amateur golfers to get a taste of international-tournament experience in the first two to three years of its sponsorship of the Open.
Despite the 26-year old turning professional in the past four years, he, much like the others who were invited to participate, still need to gain more experience playing the game at the highest level.
"I was feeling disappointed that I didn't make the cut. But as I reflect, I know the experience of being here was great. Practising and playing with the level of players I played with in both rounds was great," Ngcobo said.
"The highlight for me has to be feeling the support from South African fans who came out to support us to play well. People I didn't even know came to tell me that they came out to watch me play. And to congratulate me on my play. So that was wonderful to feel the support," said Ngcobo, who hails from Centurion and plays for Pretoria Country Club.
Over the years, the initiative to youngsters has evolved into invitations to young pros, which is why Ngcobo and fellow promising talents Musiwalo Nethunzwi, Dwayne Basson, Franklin Manchest, Keelan van Wyk and Makhetha Mazibuko were gracing the fairways alongside defending champion Louis Oosthuizen, who seems to be on course to successfully claim back-to-back victories. The six golfers are from the Gary Player Class, the Sunshine Tour’s talent identification squad for historically disadvantaged professionals.
Nethunzwi was particularly disappointed at how narrow the margin with which he missed the cut was. In 2017, the 30-year old, who at the time was given an invitation to play in the Joburg Open, made the cut of the SA Open and went on to play the full four days of the SA Open, finishing -3 T51.
"I started out and played so well in the first round, finishing day one on -4. So to then miss the cut by 1 at the end of round 2 was very disappointing. But I've accepted it now and already starting to look forward to the next challenge [Eye of Africa]".
"I've taken the positives out of the experience of playing at the SA Open again. There were definitely some great benefits. My caddy was Simon Masilo, who was the former caddy of Ernie Els. I learnt a lot from him. He showed me so many things, and he was always positive. I also realised that I just need to believe in myself more. The game is always there. And my results are coming. I just need to continue believing in myself. And that is the whole point of this invitation. To grow and learn," Nethunzwi said.
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