The 29-year-old Makhetha Mazibuko was the talk of the town on Sunday during the final round of the 2017 Eye of Africa PGA Championship at Eikenhof.
The player, who plays out of the Bloemfontein Golf Club, came agonisingly close to winning the Sunshine Tour event, but ultimately had to settle for a share of second.
Mere centimetres to the left with this final par putt on the long 19th at the Eye of Africa signature course and Mazibuko would have finished on 17 under par for a one-stroke victory over Erik van Rooyen and Dylan Frittelli.
However, his putt role a few centimetres too far to the right for a bogey, which saw him having to contest a play-off with Van Rooyen and Frittelli.
Dean Burmester, who also hails from the City of Roses but plays out of the Schoeman Park Golf Club, nearly made the play-off as well, however, an identical putt on the 18th produced an identical result to that of Mazibuko’s. He also dropped a shot, which put him out of contention.
Van Rooyen’s approach shot on the 18th was absolutely superb and actually hit the pin leaving him with a foot-long putt for the championship. It is fair to say that the 26-year-old Capetonian deserved his maiden win out tour following that outstanding approach.
Mazibuko grew-up in Phuthadijhaba, in a hut next to a field where he and friends hit balls and cut holes into the ground.
The player, nicknamed ‘The Original Playstation’ by visiting Scots when he sank six birdies in a row as 17-year-old amateur, said he is delighted with his efforts over the weekend.
“I am very happy with myself, with how I played this week. At the same time I must congratulate Erik. He deserved to win because he played a nice shot in that play-off hole. This one was close, so I am happy with how I played my game,” he added.
“I had to be calm. I want to thank all the people who supported me for this; after this I go to the next tournament with good confidence.
“I also want to thank my coach from Bloemfontein because he helped a lot this week.”
The shy and humble player will be teeing it up in George this week during the 2017 Dimension Data Pro-Am at Fancourt.
While Mazibuko didn’t win silverware this time around, he has certainly stolen the hearts of thousands across the country.
MJ Viljoen, who is also a member at the Bloemfontein Golf Club, ended on 12 under par for a share of 5th along with Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Ross McGowen. – MORGAN PIEK