Three strug­gling tour play­ers have to

Pay their own way in pro tour­na­ments

CityPress - - Sport - PULE MOKHINE pmokhine@city­

Top black golfers have com­plained about the lack of spon­sor­ships that, they say, is ham­per­ing their progress. Sun­shine Tour play­ers Musi­walo Nethun­zwi, Sipho Bu­jela and Te­boho Se­fatsa be­lieve they could have made con­sid­er­able progress in their golf­ing ca­reers if they had re­ceived ad­e­quate fi­nan­cial back­ing.

The trio, widely con­sid­ered the best top black golfers in the coun­try, raised lo­cal ex­pec­ta­tions when they broke on to the big stage.

But they have not yet made an im­pres­sion in the big league.

Nethun­zwi (26) and Bu­jela (25), who are mem­bers of the Soweto Coun­try Club, grad­u­ated to the elite tour two years ago.

But the pair has not won a sin­gle event on the de­mand­ing cir­cuit, as they ei­ther missed the cut or fin­ished poorly in big tour­na­ments.

Se­fatsa (31), from Ger­mis­ton on the East Rand, first cam­paigned in the pro­fes­sional arena in 2003.

He has per­formed bet­ter than Nethun­zwi and Bu­jela in the elite ranks.

Se­fatsa’s best year was in 2012 when he won the BMG Clas­sic at Glendower Golf Club – his maiden ti­tle as a pro­fes­sional.

He also fin­ished in the top 10 in a num­ber of con­tests in the same year.

How­ever, his good show­ing on the fair­ways stopped there.

Nowa­days, he is bat­tling to make a mark on the greens.

While com­pe­ti­tion is un­doubt­edly tough at pro­fes­sional level, Nethun­zwi, Bu­jela and Se­fatsa all agree that a lack of fi­nan­cial back­ing has been their main chal­lenge – and it has also had an ad­verse ef­fect on their per­for­mances on the greens.

Nethun­zwi is firmly of the opin­ion that his per­for­mance on the Sun­shine Tour has been be­low par be­cause of a lack of funds, which has lim­ited his abil­ity to travel and com­pete in big events coun­try­wide.

“As a fully fledged pro, one needs fi­nan­cial back­ing to be able to com­pete. My big­gest chal­lenge is that I can’t travel to far­away places to play. It’s tough to pay out of your pocket to cater for your needs on the tour.

“I have had to forgo sev­eral events be­cause I have no one spon­sor­ing me,” said Nethun­zwi, who missed the cut in the Joburg Open at the Royal Johannesburg and Kens­ing­ton Golf Club in Fe­bru­ary.

He has now de­cided to take on a job coach­ing am­a­teurs at the World of Golf in Wood­mead, Johannesburg.

“At least the lit­tle money I get at the academy helps me when­ever we play on the tour events around Gaut­eng.

“I hope things will be great for us black play­ers in the near fu­ture and we’ll start win­ning on the tour,” said Nethun­zwi.

Bu­jela said it would be ideal for com­pa­nies to spon­sor more black play­ers.

“A group of busi­ness­peo­ple used to help me fi­nan­cially, es­pe­cially when I trav­elled coun­try­wide to com­pete.

“But things changed when my per­for­mance dropped.

“I’m hope­ful that things will soon be fine for me and other black play­ers as well,” he said.

Se­fatsa noted that it would be ideal for more play­ers to have the fi­nan­cial mus­cle to en­able them to par­tic­i­pate and

SEEK­ING Musi­walo Nethun­zwi has not yet been able to make his mark on the Sun­shine Tour

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