Maseko geared up for qualifying battle
Thabo Maseko has quite a mountain to climb to get into this week’s Africa Open, but not even facing off against 100 players for a spot in the €1-million Africa Open at East London Golf Club in Tuesday’s qualifier could put a dent in the young golfer’s spirits.
Last week, the 20-year-old Gauteng pro signed an exclusive agreement with Lumenrock Sport Management International (LSMI) to manage and represent his commercial interests.
Having the Mossel Bay-based company in his corner has given the Country Club Johannesburg golfer a boost of confidence ahead of the European and Sunshine Tour co-sanctioned event at East London Golf Club from 14-17 February.
“I have been impressed with Lumenrock’s commitment to support and develop the local golf talent and I’m thrilled to join them,” Maseko said. “Although Lumenrock is a young company, they are determined to help South Africa’s young golfers grow and develop. It is exciting to become part of creating that legacy.”
Maseko’s stablemates at LSMI include two-time European Tour champion Hennie Otto, Sunshine Tour winners Keith Horne, Teboho Sefatsa and Andrew Curlewis, professionals Monique Smit, Toto Thimba and Pieter Kruger, as well as top SA amateurs Alana van Greuning and Nicole Loesch.
Maseko said that direct access to players such as Otto, Sefatsa and Horne as mentors is a great benefit. “Hennie, Keith and Teboho are all experienced players who know what it takes to win,” he said. “It’s great to know that I can turn to them for guidance and advice.
“My first year on the Sunshine Tour was a real learning curve, but with the Lumenrock team behind me and access to players like that, I am excited about the future. I will be able to concentrate on my game, dedicate myself to improving my results and reach a higher level of consistency on Tour.”
Maseko joined the Sunshine Tour in 2012 with a top 10 finish at the Vusi Ngubeni Stroke Play.
When he left the amateur circuit, he was ranked seventh in South Africa. He won the 2011 Northern Amateur Open Match Play, placed third at the 2010 Egypt Amateur and posted a top 30 finish at the 2010 Scottish Amateur. He also represented South Africa at the Africa Zone VI Golf Championships in Gaberone in 2010 and was a member of the Central Gauteng Inter-Provincial team in 2010 and 2011.
During his rookie season, Maseko claimed a top 20 finish at the Indo Zambia Bank Zambia Open, a tie for 21st at the Vodacom Origins Sishen and top 10s at the Big Easy Tour’s Observatory and ERPM tournaments.
He was also a regular blogger for the Sunshine Tour during his rookie season, where he gave golf fans insight into the ups and downs a golfer experiences in the transition from amateur to professional golf, by writing about his own experiences.
However, before the young gun can take on Horne, Sefatsa and other top Sunshine Tour champions like Thomas Aiken, Jaco van Zyl and Garth Mulroy in Buffalo City, there is the little matter of the Tuesday qualifier at the Fish River Sun Country Club.
“It’s going to be very tough, because there are nearly a 100 players challenging for the 10 spots,” he said. “But it’s the same for all of us. Everyone has to grunt it out in the qualifiers until you make the top 65 on the Sunshine Tour’s Order of Merit and get automatic qualification.
“It’s good though, because the qualifiers help you to become more focused and determined.”