15th June 2014 | IGT Challenge Tour

Thimba in command at Maheking Pro-Am

ERPM10-12MarDay3 (62)(Photos – Toto Thimba; credit CJ du Plooy)

MAHEKING, 15 June 2014 – If birdies are the best remedy to restore a golfer’s sagging confidence, then Leopard Park Golf Club is definitely becoming a fast favourite for Toto Thimba, who took control in the second round of the IGT Tour’s Maheking Pro-Am on Sunday.

The Pretoria professional reeled in seven birdies on his way to flawless 65 and a one shot lead on nine-under-par 135 over fellow Sunshine Tour regular, Alex Haindl.

Bloemfontein’s Haindl went equally low in the R200,000 pro-am, sponsored by North West Parks and Tourism Board, but only after labouring with nine birdies and an eagle-three to erase the damage of four dropped shots.

DK Kim from Korea carded a five under 67 to finish two shots off the pace and tied for third with Pieter Kruger, who returned a 68.

Thimba effort also helped him and his amateur partner, A Pule, to a three shot lead in the Betterball competition. The pair combined for 44 points to top the leaderboard at 90 points.

Jeff Inglis and amateur Frans Conradie made 42 points moved to second alongside Race to Sunshine Q-School winner Callum Mowat and his partner Tjaart Viljoen and JC Prinsloo and his partner, amateur M Jooste.

Thimba was in dangerous form at the IGT Tour’s ERPM tournament in March, but he was beaten at the third hole of a sudden-death play-off by Maheking Pro-Am defending champion, Okkie Strydom.

Could he be due a little poetic justice in Maheking on Monday?

“I don’t even think about ERPM anymore, but wouldn’t mind collecting the R50,000 winner’s cheque,” Thimba said. “It would be a huge pay day for me.”

The Silver Lakes player credited multiple Sunshine Tour winner Adilson da Silva for his round.

“I played with Adilson recently during the final round of the Sunshine Tour’s Zambia Sugar Open,” Thimba.

“I learned so much from him. He doesn’t strike the ball very far, but he puts it down the middle without fail. Hits it anywhere on the green and two putts for par. The guy hardly drops a shot.

“I was hitting the ball well and the putter was behaving very nicely. I didn’t have to fight for birdies, so I decided to stick to Adilson’s method and just keep to the fairways.

“The birdies came and even where I missed a birdie chance, I made par. It felt great not to drops shots out there and to see how percentage golf can pay off. I’m sure my manager, Mandy Santos, will say I turned a huge corner.”

Meanwhile Strydom saw his hopes of a hat-trick diminish after an eight at the par-four 12th cut heavily into his haul of four birdies and an eagle.

His consolation prize was getting his R100 back from overnight leader, Michael Scholz.

The renowned South African golfing personality and trick shot specialist won the first round with a 65, but had to fork over the takings after Strydom signed for a 70.

“That’s life, isn’t it,” said Scholz. You win some, you lose some. I guess I’ll just have to mount a comeback on Monday.”

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