16 January 2017

South Africa: Local Caddie Strikes It Rich At SA Open

Thama Jeffrey Nkonyane is about to collect the biggest cheque of his 32-year long career after helping England's Graeme Storm to victory in the SA Open at a packed and trilled Glendower on Sunday.

The Englishman went toe-to-toe with Rory McIlroy, but came out on top at the third playoff hole.

Storm might have weathered the onslaught of the world's number two player, but a tsunami is about to hit Nkonyane's bank account after the 37-year-old Storm pocketed R2.3 million for his efforts.

"This will definitely be the biggest pay-day of my life and of course the money is going to be great, but this is proudest day of my career," said the 51-year-old from Soweto.

"It was very special to win the SA Open in front of my home crowd with Graeme, because we've known each other more than 20 years.

"I used to caddie for him in his amateur days, when he came out to South Africa as a youngster to compete in the SA Stroke Play and SA Match Play.

"We always reconnect when he comes to South Africa and he calls on me if he doesn't bring his own bagman. This time his caddy went on honeymoon, so he called and I came."

Over the last three decades, Nkonyana has carried many bags and some of his favourites included Hugh Baiocchi, the late Wayne Westner and Woody Austin. After so many years playing mother, father, psychologist and caddy brought a lot of experience and he knew his job was to keep Storm's head in the game.

"Graeme never played with Rory before, so we knew it was going to be a stressful day at the office, but I have to say, the South African golf fans had a lot to do with his win," Nkonyane said.

"At almost every hole, for every shot, they cheered just as hard for Graeme as they did for Rory and that really gave us a lot of confidence. Graeme didn't have time to feel the nerves.

"My job was to keep him looking ahead and keep him in the game. We've always work well together and he today he had the confidence to tackle Rory.

"I am so proudly South African today. This just shows you that we are as good as caddies anywhere in the world and I hope the youngsters watching saw what Graeme and I did today. You can achieve anything if you work hard and you keep trying."

Source: Sport24

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