THINK YOUNG, PLAY HARD

The prod­uct of three dif­fer­ent devel­op­ment pro­grammes, Makhetha Maz­ibuko is be­gin­ning to re­alise his po­ten­tial

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents - In­ter­viewed by Barry Havenga

Makhetha Maz­ibuko.

ON FIN­ISH­ING SEC­OND AT THE PGA

My per­for­mance at Eye of Africa wasn’t only im­por­tant for me. It will show the other Gary Player Class of 2017 mem­bers that when given the proper sup­port and struc­ture – and with a lot of hard work – these re­sults are pos­si­ble. Thirty pre­vi­ously dis­ad­van­taged pro­fes­sion­als are re­ceiv­ing fi­nan­cial aid for travel and ac­com­mo­da­tion and reg­u­lar ac­cess to swing, fit­ness and men­tal coaches, over­seen by Sunshine Tour tour­na­ment di­rec­tor Theo Manyama.

ON COM­ING DOWN THE STRETCH AT THE PGA

I was proud of how my game held up in the fi­nal round (he closed with a 68). I had never fin­ished in the top-10 of a Sunshine Tour event be­fore. But I was able to

re­main calm, and played at­tack­ing golf to get into a play­off. I re­ceived so much at­ten­tion af­ter­wards, it al­most seemed like I had won!

ON HIS JOUR­NEY THROUGH DEVEL­OP­MENT GOLF

So many peo­ple have helped me on my jour­ney in this game. Af­ter see­ing golf on tele­vi­sion and watch­ing my brother (Ben) play, I be­gan hit­ting balls in a field near my home in Phutha­ditjhaba (QwaQwa). At 15 I started re­ceiv­ing coach­ing from the Golf Devel­op­ment Board, where the Free State coach­ing staff of CorneViljoen and Ratha Mo­taung taught us all the ba­sics. From there I won a schol­ar­ship to the Ernie Els & Fan­court Foun­da­tion, which was in­valu­able. For three years I stayed in the EEFF hos­tel at Fan­court, and ma­tric­u­lated from Thempalethu High School in George.

ON A TIMELY PHONE CALL

Betty Mokoena and I be­came friends dur­ing our time to­gether at the EEFF and we have always stayed in touch. I was strug­gling with my game in De­cem­ber be­fore we chat­ted over the phone, and she gave me a small tip with my putting and a gen­eral pep talk. In my next com­pet­i­tive round I shot 66 to win the SA Open qual­i­fier at Kemp­ton Park.

ON HIS NICK­NAME

As a teenager I was play­ing in a match against a vis­it­ing Scot­tish team and got on a hot streak, mak­ing six birdies in a row, af­ter which they named me the ‘Orig­i­nal PlaySta­tion’ be­cause it was like play­ing against a video game.

ON A DREAM FOUR­BALL

Rory McIl­roy, Ernie Els and Tiger Woods at St Andrews. I would love to visit the Old Course. Who knows, maybe I will re­ceive an in­vite to the Alfred Dunhill Links Cham­pi­onship in Oc­to­ber…

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