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Golf | SA

The tale of Teboho



Players, staff and fans were yet again left frustrated on Friday as day two of the inaugural Nelson Mandela Championship was abandoned after an overnight thunderstorm left the Royal Durban course waterlogged.

But one man whose grin seems unrelenting is Sunshine Tour professional Teboho Sefatsa, who still remains hopeful he can display his talents in the co-sanctioned event this weekend.

“There’s nothing we can do about it, if the course is flooded then we can’t play. Hopefully we can get out there tomorrow if the weather stays away,” he told supersport.com.

“I’d just really like to get out there and see if we can get a result this weekend. I’d love to finish off a good year with something here,” Sefatsa added.

It’s certainly been a year to remember for the endearing Sefatsa, and even one of breakthrough for someone who joined the tour some nine years ago. The 29-year-old was a fine cricketer in his youth, and represented Eastern Transvaal at junior level in the late 1990s. However, his progression into the Ernie Els Foundation in 1998 ultimately made his decision as to which code to follow, and he turned pro in 2003 after building a fine amateur pedigree.

The first few years were a struggle for Sefatsa though, and it wasn’t even until 2008 that he broke into the top 100 on the Sunshine Tour’s Order of Merit. It still didn’t kick on from there though, and 2011 marked one of his poorest seasons of all as he made just over R28 000 for the year. But, true to character, the man from Germiston always believed his hard work would pay off.

“Every year I felt as though I was improving even though the results didn’t necessarily show it. But that’s what kept me going, and I always felt that my break would come. And nine years later it did,” he said.

He turned to the Sunshine Big Easy Tour in 2011 (the sub-tour of the Sunshine Tour), but still had to bide his time before reaping the benefits of this. Eventually, in 2012, he began to make his mark on the Tour and although the financial rewards were minimal, his game developed and consistent finishes helped him emerge as one of the leading contenders for the Order of Merit title.

The season culminated in the Big Easy Tour Championship at the Els Club Copperleaf, and, despite being unable to record a win during the season, Sefatsa lay third on the Order of Merit going into the final. While his competitors wilted under the pressure, Sefatsa showed the composure of a champion, and only a final-round assault from Mark Williams denied him the win. He still clinched the Order of Merit title, and with it, had announced his arrival.

But for Sefatsa, it wasn’t nearly enough. He wanted to show his worth on the main circuit, and he was still disappointed that a professional tournament victory wasn’t on his resume.

“I enjoy pressure, so that last day on Big Easy was fun for me. You know if you’re in that situation, you’re doing something right so I just tried to relish the occasion.

“Obviously I’d recorded four second-place finishes but had been unable to turn that into a win. So it was all the more satisfying when it happened the next month at BMG,” Sefatsa said.

It was a month to the day that Sefatsa ventured onto his home course, Glendower Golf Club, and scooped the BMG Classic in front of his closest friends and family. It was a monumental achievement for a man who had struggled for the best part of his career, and he was left in no doubt as to what had helped him get there.

“To get that first win after nine long years was an incredible feeling. I always believed I could do it, but I know what did it for me. The birth of my child changed everything – I believe she’s brought me a lot of luck. I also changed coach, and I really felt like I was starting to move in the right direction,” he said.

The win has elevated the big man into the elite on Tour, and he now arrives at each tournament as a genuine force to be reckoned with. But the likeable Sefatsa has never been a player to skulk in the shadows, and for nine years he has remained one of the most popular figures among his peers.

One thing that has earned him legendary status is the story of his VW Jetta, which he has driven all over the country to get to each tournament over the years. The vehicle has amassed in excess of one million kilometres, but Sefatsa insists it still has plenty of life in it.

“I’ve still got it. That car is going to stay with me for a long time,” he insisted. “I got the car in 1998 with 300 000 on the clock, so you can imagine how many k’s it’s done now. I wouldn’t call myself a mechanic, but I can service it by myself.”

The talents of the man seem to have no bounds, but in a golfing sense, Sefatsa is proof that golf careers can blossom at any age. For nine long years he had no tangible evidence to substantiate his choice of career, but he always believed in himself and chose to focus on the positives. His rewards this year have been richly deserved, but he, like many others, will feel the best is yet to come.

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