by MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG – WITH five local and international awards clinched in recent days, Simthandile “SimTiger” Tshabalala has further underlined his reputation as South Africa’s next global golf superstar.
The youngster, who recently turned nine, is basking in the glory of an awards haul at the just-concluded South Africa Kids Golf Order of Merits and the third annual African Child of the Year Awards.
He emerged Player of the Year, Best Average Stroke Player of the Year, Most Points and Stroke Average (Boys aged 7 – 8) at the kids awards.
SA Kids Golf is supported by the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) South Africa and sanctioned by the South African Golf Association (SAGA).
Tshabalala capped off a glorious week by clinching the African Child of the Year 2020 awards in the Sports and Recreation category.
The Stacey Fru Foundation organised the awards.
This caps off a year, which despite being wrecked by the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19), was successful for Tshabalala.
Golf was not spared the emergence of the crisis, with a number of tournaments deferred.
However, at the resumption of the sport under Alert Level Three of the national lockdown in June, the youngster has taken off from where he left at the beginning of the year before the pandemic.
“I am so proud and honored to have won the big awards,” he enthused.
While the young lad has the golf world at his feet, his manager and father, Bonginkosi Tshabalala, believes the best is yet to come.
“He is playing well and there is still a lot of work to be done on his game. It’s a very long journey,” Tshabalala senior said of his prodigy.
Bonginkosi told CAJ News Africa that as the academic year drew to a close, and examinations ongoing, school was a priority.
“He (Simthandile) is doing well at school,” the manager, who is also his caddie, said in an interview.
“Golf does not interfere with his school work. School first and golf afterwards.”
Among other achievements this year, the minor finished a lofty second in his age group at the Australian Open in January.
He participated in the 2020 Presidential Golf Challenge, partnering President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Minister Nathi Mthethwa bestowed on him the Excellence Award at the South African Sports Awards.
During the lockdown, he donated food parcels to communities worst affected by the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown.
Tshabalala (jnr) has amassed over 20 trophies since he started playing golf at the age of four.
– CAJ News