Wednesday, 24 February 2010
As a fan of the tale of David and Goliath, 12-handicap Tshepo Molefe felt he had a real chance when he took on five-time Sunshine Tour winner Ulrich van den Berg before the start of this week’s Vodacom Championship in a competition called, “So, you think you can beat me?” at Pretoria Country Club on Wednesday.
“Today, my professional will witness this biblical truth,” Molefe said before his match play encounter with Van Den Berg. But while he may have had the heart, Molefe didn’t have the short game as his “Goliath” beat him 5 and 4.
And the five other amateurs who won the right to take on a Sunshine Tour professional were also given a thorough beating.
The amateurs were the winners of the nationwide competition called “So, you think you can beat me?” in which they had to explain in an SMS of 20 words or less why they are better than the professionals they watch on TV.
In short, every amateur out there who has ever thought he or she can do better than the professionals they watch on TV every week was given the chance to prove it before Thursday’s first round of this R2.65 million tournament.
The amateurs – who had handicaps ranging from 18 to four – were treated to the entire experience of being a professional, including the perks of reserved parking bays bearing their names, teeing off in front of a big gallery of adoring fans, being interviewed on camera, and even being asked for their autographs.
“It was an amazing experience and I learned so much,” said Channelle Thomson, a four handicapper who took on eight-time Sunshine Tour winner Bradford Vaughan and was beaten 6 and 4.
“I was definitely more nervous than she was, because if I’d lost I would’ve never heard the end of it,” said Vaughan.
“But it’s a lovely concept. There are always a lot of experts who sit at home on their couches, but it’s a different story when you’re out there.”
Van Den Berg was also complimentary of his amateur’s performance.
“Tshepo made a great par on the first, which is a brutal hole. With the shots I gave him he went 1up after the first. But it was a great day. It was good for the amateurs to see what we do for a living, and to play a golf course set up very differently from what they play in their monthly medal.”
And 13 handicap Raj Maharaj came away with newfound respect for what his professional opponent, Mark Murless, goes through following his 4 and 3 defeat.
“I can tell anyone that it’s far from easy out there. The pressure, the people watching you. They make it look so easy – that’s the difference between us and these guys.”
The Vodacom Championship tees off on Thursday with two former champions in the field in Richard Sterne and James Kingston, as well as European Tour campaigners Louis Oosthuizen, James Kamte and Thomas Aiken.