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29th April 2024 | Big Easy Tour

Simon plans ahead following Vusi Ngubeni triumph

Thabang Simon couldn’t hide his happiness following his hard-fought victory in last week’s Altron Vusi Ngubeni Tournament which guaranteed him and 12 others playing privileges in the upcoming season of the Sunshine Tour.

The Soweto Country Club player had it all to do in the final round as Thanda Mavundla, Thabiso Ngcobo and Slenda Sithebe, among others, were piling the pressure. In the end, however, his final-round 69 took his tournament total to 17-under and handed him a one-stroke win over Mavundla.

“It was very tough, I’m telling you,” said Simon. “The guys wanted to win it too but I stayed focused and reminded myself that I know what’s my number. I told myself that I needed to get it to 18-under and I’ll be okay, but 17-under is still fine with me. But I am so happy to finally get it done. It’s been a long time since I won at ERPM.

“This is a very important week for most of us here and it was always going to be tough. But, I always play the golf course rather than playing a man. It was important to keep fighting and playing good shots because that gave me opportunities and I was able to take advantage of some.”

At 49, Simon is no youngster and is fully aware of this. He admits that he still has enough in him to compete at the highest level but knows he will have to start thinking about the senior’s circuit at some point soon.

“This win means a lot to me because I’m close to being a senior now; I’m one minute close,” he says with loud laughter. “Now, here comes the Vusi Ngubeni title, just before these youngsters start thinking I’m done. My goal is to keep my Sunshine Tour card this season and see if I can’t compete for a couple of years but after that, I will definitely think about going into the seniors. I’ll be 50 next year, so I might as well start thinking about that path.

“I had a look at the entry list before we came here and some of these guys are really young. But, what impressed me the most is just the strength of this year’s Vusi field. I told my friend it was going to be a tough one and we needed to prepare well.  The guys here are really good, and the youngsters are exceptional too. It’s really good competition and I’m looking forward to the Sunshine Tour. We will then see from there if we can try the seniors.”

Along with Simon, Mavundla, Sithebe and Ngcobo, here are the other players who secured their Sunshine Tour statuses for next season.

Thabang Simon

Thanda Mavundla

Thabiso Ngcobo

Slenda Sithebe

Jastice Mashego

Teboho Sefatsa

Lyle Pedro

Jabulane Mabilane

Kayle Wykes

Tristin Gallant

Trevor Mahoney

Irvin Mazibuko